The pandemic sweeping across the country and the world brought at least one interesting question to mind that had previously not been considered:
If your agency is tasked with providing front-line medical care to those affected with the H1N1 virus, does your employer have the right to force you to be vaccinated or face being fired?
Many of us have already decided if we want to get the vaccinations. But the ability for us to make our own decision is not so easy for some who want to stay employed.
Citing the “public health emergency”, some agencies feel it necessary to ensure its full compliment of workers is inoculated and ready to serve by taking the decision away from the employee.
In an earlier post, FireDaily.com brought you the story of a Chicagoland firefighter paramedic weighing his options. He posed several questions, many of which are coming to light all across the country as we speak.
We now have an update to the story we brought you on the three separate lawsuits, including one by New York’s second-largest state employees union, which prompted a NY State Supreme Court Justice to issue a Temporary Restraining Order barring mandatory vaccinations for certain health care workers.
New York State Health Commissioner Richard Daines had previously forced these workers to either take both the seasonal and H1N1 vaccinations by November 30 or face disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Although the next hearing date is set for later this week, the shortage of available vaccine has served to defuse the conflict, at least temporarily.
New York public health workers are no longer be required to take the vaccines, according to a statement from Governor David Paterson.
“The CDC acknowledged that New York would only receive approximately 23 percent of its anticipated vaccine supply,” Paterson said. “As a result, we need to be as resourceful as we can with the limited supplies of vaccine currently coming into the state.”
Production issues and increased demand has radically decreased the availability of the H1N1 vaccine. The CDC had initially estimated 40 million doses would be available by the end of this week. The revised number is now only 27.7 million doses.
Although the decision by New York authorities leave those declining the vaccines breathing a little easier, the conflict still remains without resolution. Until then, health care workers across the nation are still uncertain if their right to decide what goes into their bodies can ultimately result in losing their jobs.
How is your agency handling this issue?
Stay tuned as FireDaily.com will continue to bring updates to this developing situation.