The Shot or the Pink Slip: A Hobson’s Choice
Health care workers must be immunized against H1N1 by November 30 or lose their jobs, said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines. Health Department officials approved the regulation in August, making New York the only state in the country to mandate seasonal and swine flu immunizations for all health care providers, including doctors.
Some nurses and health care providers say the regulation not only violates their personal freedom but also puts them at risk for severe neurological disorders such as Guillain Barre syndrome and death without legal redress. The federal government has extended “liability immunity against tort claims” for its five swine H1N1 flu vaccine contractors should their vaccines be linked to sickness, nerve-damage, or death.
Opponents’ concerns regarding the H1N1 vaccine are not unfounded. The last federal government swine-flu vaccination program in 1976 was a debacle. Outbreaks of Guillain Barre syndrome were linked to the flu shot, and the national immunization campaign was shut down after just 10 weeks.
Even though the Public Employees Federation has urged union members to comply with the regulation, many health care providers are angry that they are being compelled to take H1N1 flu shots. “No one wants to be forced to take a vaccine that’s been hurried through the approval process,” said Helena Kosorek, spokeswoman for the New York Healthcare Concerned Citizens Group.
Nurse Kristi Tramposch said she is reluctant to take the shot because of the “toxic substances that go into vaccines” and prefers to wait until enough people have taken it before she even considers it.
Typically, only 40 to 50 percent of New York’s health care workers are vaccinated yearly against influenza, but Daines predicts opponents will ultimately comply with the directive and roll up their sleeves.
Hundreds of health care workers opposed to the mandatory H1N1 flu shot are expected to rally today at the State Capitol Building in Albany.