(CBS) The first doses of the H1N1 vaccine are expected to be released this week. While that is bringing relief to some Americans, it’s also helping to ignite a controversy for one group, as CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston reports.
Outside New York ’s capitol building, health care workers – shouting “Give me liberty!” – vowed to fight an unprecedented order from state health officials: a requirement for every health care worker to get seasonal and H1N1 flu shots or face the possibility of being fired.
Physical therapist Carole Blueweiss is weighting that risk.
“I’m healthy and I have a strong immune system and I don’t want to feel like someone is telling me what to put into my body to protect me,” Blueweiss said.
But the state maintains the objective is to reduce the possibility of infecting patients.
“Every flu season, in New York for example, we have about 160 outbreaks of flu inside healthcare institutions,” said New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Richard Daines.
In past years, when vaccination was voluntary, only 40 percent of the state’s 925,000 health care workers get vaccinated.
“That’s kind of intolerable that patients should come to a hospital and not know that the healthcare workers are vaccinated,” Daines said.
Here’s the full report:
While I generally don’t think that the state should force people to take vaccines unless there is an immediate threat of a deadly communicable disease, I think this case is one where exceptions should apply.
Employers, public and private, should have the right to set reasonable rules of employment and, in the health care industry, it doesn’t seem to me to be at all unreasonable to require people who come in contact with patients to be both protected from getting sick and incapable of spreading a disease that, while a minor inconvenience to them, could be fatal to someone with a compromised immune system.