7 states sue over new vaccination mandate

By Christine Dial, CNN

The states of California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon have filed a lawsuit against the US government over its latest plan to mandate vaccines for health care workers who care for children under 6 months old.

The workers can only refuse a vaccination under the new rules if they undergo rigorous training to prevent serious diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National Conference of State Legislatures, which announced the lawsuits on Thursday, said the states believe the federal government exceeded its authority in mandating the laws.

The seven states and one Canadian province accused the CDC of not providing proper notice before adopting the new rules; failure to give states enough time to review the rules and prepare for implementation; and failure to provide enough technical support and guidance for states to implement the rules.

New York, Oregon and the Canadian province of British Columbia are seeking an injunction to temporarily halt the vaccine mandate while the lawsuits are pending.

The lawsuits ask for the courts to declare the mandated vaccines are unlawful and invalid.

The states said in a news release that the vaccines, which were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, pose “significant health risks” for nurses, medical and dental assistants, home health aides and other health care workers.

They say if the new rules are not halted, other health care workers who do not adhere to them will face repercussions — including loss of their licenses and some type of discipline from their health care employer.

The announcement included statistics from the CDC and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Between 2011 and 2016, 7,141 workers left their jobs or were forced out due to vaccine refusal.

Of those, 1,295 quit their jobs voluntarily and 6,249 became employed elsewhere. The remaining 4,750 quit their jobs involuntarily.

The CDC and AHRC data both show a trend of vaccine refusal among health care workers. For example, 3.6% of the 44,367 health care workers surveyed from 2012 to 2014 responded in a national survey that they had been vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella but declined another vaccine, such as hepatitis B or polio.

The number of health care workers refusing other vaccines is higher, about 7%, according to the survey from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The information on the states does not take into account the amount of vaccines either required by health care providers or accepted by their patients.

In the last 20 years, measles has been declared eliminated in the United States, the CDC said. However, countries with low vaccination rates — such as Europe and parts of the Middle East — have seen an uptick in measles, including the UK, where the country had its worst outbreak in a decade.

The organizations have said the vaccine mandate would help protect some 220,000 children younger than 6 months whose families refuse vaccines on religious or personal beliefs, and prevent 200 to 500 cases of measles annually.


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