It’s the law: New York health care workers must get flu shot or wear mask
Get ready to see more doctors and nurses wearing masks. New rules adopted by the New York Health Department requires all health care workers — even volunteers — at hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare agencies to either get their flu shots or wear face masks when working with patients.
After last year’s heavy flu season, state Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah said that health care personnel come into contact with many patients who have chronic conditions, making them more susceptible to flu infections. “This regulation will enable health care workers to meet their obligation to do no harm to patients,” and will protect workers as well, he said.
Health care worker vaccination rates are typically below recommended levels, at only 48.4 percent, according to DOH. Masks are not as effective as flu shots, but are better than nothing.
New York State and the nation experienced the worst seasonal influenza season in a decade in 2012-2013, with flu activity strongest from November through April. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October, and usually peaks in January or February.