The elderly, the young, and the frequently exposed are being advised to get vaccinated against H1N1 flu virus this year, due to predictions of a possible influenza epidemic. A new law in New York requires nurses and doctors to receive the vaccination by the end of November. A band of four nurses in Albany, however, is taking a stand against mandated vaccination.
“I have had more staff that have become ill after the flu vaccines this year than coworkers that have actually come down with the illness," Lorna Patterson, a nurse at Albany Medical Center's emergency room, told news network WTEN. Patterson is one of the nurses who is filing a lawsuit this week against the state. She and her coworkers hope that they can stop the state from enforcing the mandatory vaccinations.
Currently, New York is telling health care workers that if they aren't vaccinated by October 27th , they face a week's suspension without pay; any employee not vaccinated by the state deadline, November 30th, will be terminated.
"Receiving the vaccine doesn't mean you're not going to get the flu," Patterson adds. She claims that she has only received an influenza vaccination once in 28 years of nursing and for the most part prefers 'proper hygiene' over a vaccine.
A coworker, Katheryn Dupuis, feels similarly wary about the H1N1 vaccine. "We're going to lose our jobs if we do not get this vaccine," Dupuis says. "There are hundreds of coworkers of ours that feel just as strongly against the vaccine."
The resistance to mandated vaccination stems from the speedy discovery, research, and approval process that the H1N1 vaccine passed through after this past year's swine flu scare. The nurses filing suit claim that the vaccine was “rushed”. Many vaccines face a year of testing and research before they are available to the public, but the H1N1 vaccine was put into massive production more quickly than most. One of the only vaccines to be required for health care workers is also one of the least tested.
So far, the nurses count 466 signatures on their circulating petitions against the state mandate. A rally on Wednesday on the steps of the state capitol is expected to grab more signatures and the attentions of lawmakers. More information on the mandated vaccination law and the nurses' protest can be found here.