RI union sues to stop flu-shot mandate

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A union that represents health-care workers has filed a federal lawsuit trying to stop Rhode Island from carrying out new regulations requiring flu vaccination.

The regulations require health-care workers to get a flu shot or wear a mask when in contact with patients during a period of widespread flu activity. Those who don't comply face fines and disciplinary action.

The Providence Journal reports (http://bit.ly/VAgiQg ) the SEIU Healthcare Employees Union, District 1199, alleges there is no medical evidence that vaccinating health-care workers protects patients or that surgical masks inhibit flu transmission. The lawsuit argues the regulations violate a federal requirement to negotiate such matters with the union.

Rhode Island Health Department Director Michael Fine said in October the department took health care workers' concerns into consideration. But he stressed the need to protect public health.

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Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.providencejournal.com

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