OSHA and NJ Refuse Healthcare Worker Flu Shot Mandates

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

Good news: not everyone is keen on forcing healthcare workers into mandatory flu vaccines. Healthcare workers certainly don’t want to be coerced into taking their own medicine. They want options like anyone else.

In recent years, doctors and healthcare workers are increasingly refusing vaccines even if they support vaccinating others. Recent motions have caused them to have to decide between their job or taking a jab they simply don’t want.

Governor Chris Christie pocket vetoed a New Jersey bill to mandate flu vaccines for healthcare workers. Christie’s “pocket veto” was more effective at stopping the bill than a typical veto would have been.

What is a pocket veto?

A pocket veto is a veto by default, where the signer of the proposed legislation sits on it until the deadline lapses, i.e. pockets it.

Pocketing is most often a decisive action. In this case, Christie’s pocket veto kept it from going back into legislature for an override vote.

In a surprising move, Occupational Health and Safety(OSHA) stepped in:

While we are supportive of the Healthy People 2020 goal of a 90% vaccination rate, we have seen no evidence that demonstrates that such a high rate is in fact necessary. Furthermore, the current influenza vaccine is no magic bullet. The current state of influenza vaccine technology requires annual reformulation and revaccination and the efficacy is quite variable. Every year there are numerous circulating strains of influenza that are not included in the vaccine. In years where the antigenic match is good, the vaccine only provides protection against the 3 strains in the formulation. In years when the antigenic match is poor, the vaccine may provide no protection at all. The limits of current influenza vaccine technology are especially problematic in the context of a mandatory influenza vaccination program that results in job loss. Lastly, reliance on a mandatory influenza vaccination policy may provide healthcare workers, health care facility management and patients with an unwarranted sense of security and result in poor adherence to other infection control practices that prevent all types of infections, not just influenza. Influenza vaccination has always been just one part of a comprehensive multi-layered infection control program.

OSHA submitted their statement to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee last fall. The complete statement can be read here on page 25, Appendix B.

Bargaining healthcare workers’ job security for forced vaccinations they obviously want to have choices about is hardly a fair move. Maybe the extra pressure is arousing more questioning. Let’s hope that other authorities and groups take the same stand and simply refuse!

Support for Gov. Chris Christie’s decision can be voiced at (609) 777-2500 or (609) 292-6000.

Kudos to OSHA for protecting the well being of employees in this instance.


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