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Mandatory Flu Vaccines for Hospital Workers Moving as Emergency Rule

A regulation that would require influenza vaccinations for all hospital workers is moving through the regulatory process and is expected to be in place for this fall’s influenza season.

The proposal, available on the HANYS Web site, is on the agenda for next week’s meeting of the Codes Committee of the State Hospital Review and Planning Council (SHRPC). A separate mandate for nursing home employees, requiring a statutory change, is under consideration in the State Legislature.

If approved, the regulation would apply to all personnel working in hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers, certified home health agencies, long-term home health care programs, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome home care programs, licensed home care services agencies, and hospices. Under the proposal, hospitals and other covered health care facilities would have to provide or arrange for the flu vaccinations at no cost to their employees. The only exemption is in cases where the vaccine is medically contraindicated.

The definition of staff who would be covered under the rule includes: “. . . all persons employed or affiliated with a healthcare facility, whether paid or unpaid, including but not limited to employees, members of the medical staff, contract staff, students, and volunteers, who either have direct contact with patients or whose activities are such that if they were infected with influenza, they could potentially expose patients, or others who have direct contact with patients, to influenza.”

The proposal could apply to provision of the H1N1 flu vaccine, should that vaccine become available in sufficient supplies and should health care workers be among those listed as a first priority to receive the vaccine.

HANYS will provide an update after the discussion at the SHRPC committee meetings next week. Contact: Karen Roach

Published July 17, 2009