Except for that nuisance of a line between theory and practice, the American Nurses Association (ANA) might support mandatory flu vaccinations for the profession.
Acknowledging H1N1 as a public health emergency, the ANA is “urging all registered nurses to get the H1N1 vaccine to protect themselves, their families, and the patients they serve,” according to an October 27 news release,  yet it stops short of supporting mandatory flu shots.
“ANA understands the potential need for a mandatory vaccination policy during a pandemic, but we are committed to ensuring that such policies are not discriminatory or punitive and contain appropriate exemptions,” said ANA President Rebecca M. Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR.
Here are the conditions under which the ANA would support mandatory vaccinations:
- The order comes from the highest level of legal authority, ideally state government
- The rule includes suitable exemptions such as for those allergic to components of the vaccine
- No discriminating against or disciplining nurses choosing not to participate
- Mandatory shots are part of a comprehensive infection control program that includes personal protective equipment, such as N95 respirators, to increase safety
- Vaccinations are free and provided at convenient times and locations to foster compliance
- Employer negotiates with worker union representatives to resolve any differences when the policy is implemented at a health care facility
Despite these conditions, the ANA says that nurses have an ethical obligation to protect themselves, patients and families from illness, and that vaccination is one simple step to do that, and even more crucial during this H1N1 pandemic.