There’s lots of concern about H1N1 (swine) flu, and lots of confusion, too. Last week, a woman who volunteers at a local hospital wrote a letter claiming that “thanks to our president,” she had to leave a position that she loved, because she didn’t want to get the flu shot.
New York is the first state (and only, so far) state to require health-care workers to get both the seasonal flu vaccine and the swine flu vaccine. So, she’s right that it’s a government mandate making her uncomfortable, but the wrong layer of government.
Her complaint, though, is not unusual. Nurses unions have been protesting New York’s move, and I’ve met friends in the health care field who are upset they have no choice.
In other places, some individual hospitals are demanding their workers get either seasonal or H1N1, or in some cases, both vaccines. Some hospitals have been making workers sign forms stating they are aware they are putting themselves and their patients at risk if they opt out ofa flu shot (not mandatory, just guilt?) And health care workers are always encouraged to get the flu shot. Compliance is anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent, depending on the what’s predicted for the virus that year (some years, it’s expected to be a mild flu season, and then fewer people tend to be interested in getting vaccinated.)
BTW, my understanding is New York health care workers can only opt out for medical reasons.
“The rationale begins with the health-care ethic, which is: The patient’s well-being comes ahead of the personal preferences of health-care workers,” New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines told the Washington Post.
Do you think health workers should have a choice? Is a mandate the right way to go? A reward system? If you are a medical provider or a patient, it would be interesting to hear your perspective.