Paterson Pulls Back on Flu Vaccination Rule

But says thats only because of supply concerns, not civil liberty reasons.

By Eric Luu
|  Friday, Oct 23, 2009  |  Updated 10:30 AM EDT
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Paterson Pulls Back on Flu Vaccination Rule

AP

Serena Grade School, in LaSalle County, was closed after 69 children were reported having flu symptoms.

Gov. David A. Paterson took a few steps away from a health regulation Thursday evening that would require the vaccination of hundreds of thousands of health care workers for swine and seasonal flu.

“Since the vaccine is so scarce right now and since the virus has proved especially difficult for pregnant women and young people — there have been deaths — we felt that the best use of the scarce amount of vaccine right now is for those populations,” a State Department of Health spokeswoman, Claudia Hutton told the New York Times in an interview Thursday.

The state health commissioner, Dr. Richard F. Daines, issue a regulation in August that required health care worker vaccinations by Nov. 30 or face penalties. An Albany judge stopped the enforcement of the rule last week after three nurses filed a case who asserted that the forced vaccinations is violation of their civil rights.

The governor says that his decision was not based on the case or the restraining order the judge issued. He based his decision a statement the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released that reported only 23 percent of the expected vaccine supply will be accessible by the end of the month.

“As a result, we need to be as resourceful as we can with the limited supplies of vaccine currently coming into the state and make sure that those who are at the highest risk for complications from the H1N1 flu receive the first vaccine being distributed right now in New York State,” Paterson said in a statement.

Based on the state’s population, New York is expected to get 6 to 7 percent of the country’s vaccine supply.

“This is a good result, because the decision whether or not to be vaccinated is one that should be made by the individual. That’s all we ever wanted to establish here: the right to make that choice,” Terence L. Kindlon, a lawyer for the three nurses, told the Times.
 

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