Senate Health Committee releases flu vaccination bill regarding health workers

TRENTON – The Senate Health Committee unanimously released bill S1464, which requires health care facilities to offer annual flu vaccinations to their workers, and keep track of those workers.

It states that in lieu of accepting the flu vaccination offer, a health care worker could present acceptable proof of a current influenza vaccination from another vaccination source, or sign a written declination statement.

The facilities would be required to maintain a record of flu vaccinations for each health care worker, retain each signed declination statement from a health care worker who elects not to receive the vaccination, and report the compliance rate of its health care workforce in receiving influenza vaccinations to the Health Department.

The report may include information that the facility deems relevant to its compliance rate, including, but not limited to, the number of health care workers who signed declination statements that the facility has received.

The bill does not mandate flu vaccinations.

Opponents of the bill said the flu vaccine is already available to those who want it, calling the bill unnecessary, if not an invasion of privacy.

Sue Collins, who heads the Coalition of Vaccination Choice, said the state’s tracking mechanism of workers who did or didn’t accept the vaccine amounts to coercion and will put pressure on health care workers to take the vaccines even if they really don’t want them.

She added that the effectiveness of such vaccines tends to wear off pretty quickly, pointing out the recent deaths of people who died from the flu despite receiving the vaccine.  

Another witness, Deb Huber, called the flu vaccination a “government-required toxin” and dismissed flu vaccination benefits as “junk science.”

However, Sen. Joe Vitale (D-19) of Woodbridge, a prime sponsor of the the bill, said it  is not intended to take a listing of people or be used for punitive purposes.

“I’m one of those people who had that government–required toxin to be put in my system and I’m doing pretty good,” Vitale quipped.

He said the tracking is needed because if it’s learned that participation levels are low, the state would develop a program encouraging people to take them.

Sen. Robert Singer (R-30) of Lakewood supported the bill, adding that the tracking is intended to learn about the effectiveness of the program.

Senate Health Committee releases flu vaccination bill regarding health workers