October 27, 2009
Cynthia Leonor Garza
Statement by Randi Weingarten, President,
American Federation of Teachers, On Lifting of New York’s
Flu Vaccination Mandate for Healthcare Workers
WASHINGTON—Immunization should be one of many tools used by employers to protect workers and patients, and the American Federation of Teachers is encouraging all our members to weigh the risks and benefits of both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccinations. But ultimately, the decision on vaccination should remain an individual choice.
The AFT is pleased that Gov. David A. Paterson rightly reassessed a health regulation that would have forced hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers in New York to be vaccinated against the seasonal and H1N1 flu, or risk being disciplined or fired by their employer. We also applaud the health professionals—members of our affiliates, the New York State United Teachers, United University Professions and the New York State Public Employees Federation—who took the New York Health Department to task through their lawsuits to halt this illegal and ill-conceived mandate.
Unfortunately, there isn’t just one simple solution for dealing with this pandemic. While we support and encourage flu vaccinations, we are also encouraging employers to develop their own comprehensive pandemic flu plans. And there is the broader issue impacting the citizens of New York State—the proposed budget cuts. We join our affiliates now in urging the Governor to reconsider the proposed painful cuts of more than $1 billion to healthcare and education.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.