Legal considerations surrounding mandatory influenza vaccination for healthcare workers in the United States
Minnesota Department of Health, United States. Electronic address: .Vaccine (Impact Factor: 3.62). 02/2013; 31(14). DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.02.002
Recent years have brought increased focus on the desirability of vaccinating more healthcare workers against influenza. The concern that novel 2009 H1N1 influenza A would spark a particularly severe influenza season in 2009-2010 spurred several institutions and one state to institute mandatory vaccination policies for healthcare workers, and several new mandates have been introduced since then. Some healthcare workers, however, have voiced objections in the media and in legal proceedings. This paper reviews the characteristics of influenza and how it is transmitted in the healthcare setting; surveys possible constitutional, administrative, and common law arguments against mandates; assesses the viability of those arguments; and identifies potential new legal strategies to support influenza vaccine mandates. It is intended to assist those involved in the regulation and administration of public and private healthcare institutions who may be considering approaches to mandates but have concerns about legal challenges.
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ABSTRACT: Healthcare students are a specific subgroup of healthcare workers as they are often not identified by the occupational medicine systems in healthcare facilities, because of their shared time between hospital wards and universities. Nevertheless, they should comply with the same vaccination recommendations as employed healthcare workers because they are in close and repeated contact with patients. Occupational immunization recommendations may vary between countries, but always include vaccine-preventable diseases that might lead to nosocomial outbeaks and/or fatal outcomes for healthcare workers or patients. Studies conclude that vaccine coverage is too low in healthcare students, and that they are often not aware of their possibility to be vectors of infections to frail patients. Efforts should be made to educate medical and nursing students on vaccines, to convince them of the utility of immunization and to offer them an increased access to occupational vaccinations in hospitals and universities.
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