First Do No Harm: Protecting Patients Through Immunizing Health Care Workers
40 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2015 Last revised: 28 May 2016
Date Written: February 8, 2015
To protect vulnerable patients, hospitals increasingly adopt policies requiring health care workers to be vaccinated against influenza. More than twenty states have also enacted statutes or regulations on the topic. A small minority of health care workers oppose the requirement, and several have appealed to our courts of justice.
This article examines the legal issues surrounding influenza mandates for health care workers, including the constitutional framework, federal employment discrimination statutes, and the effect of collective bargaining. It argues that requiring vaccination for health care workers is both ethical and appropriate. While better done via state statute, hospitals have the authority to require vaccination from their workers -- and are not, arguably, required to exempt any workers that do not have medical barriers to vaccination.
Keywords: vaccines, religious exemptions, health, labor law, influenza
JEL Classification: I10, I18, J28, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation