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Flu vaccinations; Compulsory shots spark dispute

Posted by wicked blu Friday, September 10, 2010


The American Academy of Pediatrics is expected to recommend that health workers be required to receive flu vaccinations. The proposal will revive the debate of the legality and ethics of mandatory vaccinations.

For the academy, which represents 60,000 pediatricians, the vaccination is a matter of patient safety. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, just one-third of the nation's health care workers received the swine flu vaccine and a third receive it as well as the seasonal flu shot.

Nurses have the lowest rate of vaccinations, according to Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic's vaccine research group, who also helped write the policy recommendation.

Last year, the flu killed more than 23,000 people and hospitalized 200,000. The shots protect health care workers as well as those with whom they come in contact.

Other organizations have endorsed mandatory vaccinations, including the National Patient safety Foundation, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Society of Healthcare Epidemiologists.

The American Nurses Association, though, is one organization opposed to the policy. It encourages nurses to receive the vaccinations but has objected to making it mandatory.

Opponents see vaccinations as a matter of personal choice. But supporters point out that such choices are often restricted in the interest of the public welfare as for children who receive vaccinations against several infectious diseases.

Health care workers last year resisted attempts by New York state officials to force them to be vaccinated or lose their jobs. Several public employee unions successfully obtained restraining orders blocking the plan, which state leaders later withdrew.

The academy's proposal, though, could put the issue back on the courts' agenda.

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