Colorado health officials mulling mandatory vaccinations

Colorado state health officials will soon vote on whether or not mandate influenza vaccinations for all healthcare workers and nursing home employees with no religious or other personal exemptions.

The state board of health will decide next month on the implementation of new rules that would require low and high risk facilities to match flu vaccination targets that will increase to 90 percent over the next two years. The board said, in this case, that patient protection outweighs individual choice, according to the Denver Post.

The Colorado Hospital Association is supportive of mandatory vaccination rules in hospitals, but individual facilities have various policies. Some libertarian groups have openly opposed the mandate proposal, saying that there is not enough evidence that the vaccine protects patients or is safe enough for workers to support government intrusion.

"The right of Americans to make their own medical decisions should be respected," Dr. Jane Orient, the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, said, the Denver Post reports. Orient's organization has written to the state health board opposing the mandate.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the head of the immunization section for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said that public health officials need to keep in mind the rights of exposed patients, especially newborns and the elderly.