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Drugmakers have been granted immunity from liability for the H1N1 vaccine, Fisher noted. That means consumers harmed by the vaccines may have little recourse for injuries or death in the future.
The ANA stops short of endorsing mandatory immunization, saying that education and awareness are the best tools, Peterson said. In some health settings, workers who aren’t vaccinated must wear face masks when caring for patients. In others, all workers wear tags indicating whether they’re vaccinated or not, so that it’s obvious who has opted out.
Such actions can help create a climate where peer pressure contributes to higher vaccination rates among health workers. Greene, the New York infection prevention official, said rates are higher than 80 percent in some health care settings and the average is creeping up nationwide. In 2006, about 42 percent of health care workers received flu shots; by 2007 it rose to 44 percent, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.