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Nurses Sue to Avoid Swine Flu Vaccine

POSTED: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 - 7:07am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 10:59pm

A lawyer representing four Albany, New York nurses is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn a mandate requiring all health care workers to be immunized against the seasonal flu and swine flu. Right now they risk losing their jobs if they don't roll up their sleeves by the end of November.

The nurses believe their safety is at risk if they get the shots. The state health department counters that public health is at risk if they don't. "We're being coerced to consent to receiving this vaccine that as educated health care professionals we don't believe in," nurse Lorna Patterson said.

This year every health and emergency worker in New York is required to get the immunizations. Many question the efficacy of the shots. Some also question its safety. "We know as nurses that every medication and substance has a risk of side effects and adverse reactions and we don't know what the risks and adverse reactions are with these vaccines," Patterson said.

The state Department of Health defended its stance Monday, stating the commissioner has "clear legal authority to promulgate the mandatory influenza vaccination regulation to protect the public health." "We're going to lose our jobs. We're going to lose our jobs if we don't get this vaccine," nurse Kathryn Dupuis said.

The nurses and their lawyer, attorney Terry Kindlon, believe the civil rights of thousands of health care workers will be violated if the mandate isn't overturned. "Everything is done by way of stampede," Kindlon said. "We have to invade Iraq or New York will be ruined. We have to give billions to the banking industry or the economy will collapse. We have to give these shots or everyone will die."

The federal government recommends, but does not mandate, that health care and emergency workers receive the H1N1 vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control also suggests the immunization for pregnant women, adults who care for children less than 6 months old and young people aged 6 months to 24 years. Older than that, the CDC only recommends the vaccine if you have a pre-existing health condition.