Influenza Mandates and Health Care Workers:

First Do No Harm: Protecting Patients Through Immunizing Health Care Workers.

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

University of California Hastings College of the Law


Rene F. Najera

John Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health

To protect vulnerable patients, hospitals increasingly adopt policies requiring health care workers to be vaccinated against influenza. More than twenty states have also enacted statutes or regulations on the topic. A small minority of health care workers oppose the requirement, and several have appealed to our courts of justice.
This article examines the legal issues surrounding influenza mandates for health care workers, including the constitutional framework, federal employment discrimination statutes, and the effect of collective bargaining. It argues that requiring vaccination for health care workers is both ethical and appropriate. While better done via state statute, hospitals have the authority to require vaccination from their workers – and are not, arguably, required to exempt any workers that do not have medical barriers to vaccination.