245047 Legal perspectives on mandatory vaccination of health care workers

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 12:30 PM

Alexandra Stewart, JD , Department of Health Policy, School of Public Health and Health Service, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC
This presentation will examine the Constitutionality of state laws that require influenza vaccination of health care workers (HCWs). We will discuss relevant U.S. Supreme Court decisions in order to identify the standard that courts must apply when balancing individual rights against the public's health. It is important to review these decisions because the Supreme Court is obligated to resolve complicated Constitutional issues. Their rulings provide guidance to state courts when they are confronted with questions regarding an individual's civil rights.

Mandatory influenza vaccination raises important questions about a state's authority to compel individuals to act in the public's interest. Proponents view mandatory influenza vaccination programs as a critical component of patient safety programs. However, opponents have initiated claims in state courts, arguing that mandatory vaccination violates fundamental constitutional rights, including: 1) religious freedom; 2) due process; 3) bodily autonomy; 4) medical privacy; and 5) economic freedom. Yet, no state court has yet fully analyzed these arguments and issued a decision.

Learning Areas:
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Occupational health and safety
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Recognize the primary legal arguments surrounding mandatory influenza vaccination of health care workers Discuss how U.S. courts will analyze the arguments Predict how a court will likely decide the Constitutional issues surrounding mandatory vaccination of health care workers

Keywords: Health Care Workers, Immunizations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have researched and published on the topic of mandatory vaccination of health care workers.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.