N.Y. pushing for mandatory health care worker flu vaccinations

Legislators in New York are attempting to revive a controversial measure that would call for mandatory flu vaccinations for health care workers.

In August 2009, the state health department ordered all health care workers to get the flu vaccine, a measure supported by the governor. The measure was withdrawn, however, due to protests from unions and an overall shortage of the H1N1 vaccine.

Sen. Tom Duane, head of the state health committee, told that he is ready to bring the measure back to the state Legislature.

“People don't like being told what to do, but frankly, if you work in a hospital setting, flu vaccination should be mandatory,” Duane told “There will be people mad about it, but I do believe it's necessary.”

Duane said his bill would require inoculation for everyone in medical facilities and that the proposed measure is supported by a number of medical groups around the country.

Assemblyman Rory Lancman, chairman of the assembly subcommittee on workplace safety, said that the measure has almost universal opposition from the health care professionals who are covered by the order.

“The order would make New York the only state in the country that required mandatory vaccinations," Lancman told “Not that every health care professional shouldn't be vaccinated, but it shouldn't be mandatory. There is virulent and visceral reaction to being ordered to inject vaccine into your body by the government. A mandatory vaccination program is simply not workable.”

One of the measure’s biggest opponents, the New York State Nurses Association, recommends flu vaccination to all its members, but stops short of supporting the requirement.

“By itself, this extreme measure will not prevent the spread of the influenza virus in hospitals," Renee Gecsedi, a director with the nurse’s union, told