Binghamton Health Care Workers Arming Against Flu

By WBNG News

July 22, 2010 Updated Sep 22, 2009 at 6:08 PM EDT

Health care workers in New York State are lining up to get flu shots.

But it's not because they want to, it's because they have to.

Action News Reporter Julianne Sweeney shows us how local health care providers are on the front lines of slowing the spread of the flu this season.

Workers at Lourdes Hospital are arming themselves against seasonal flu.

The hospital's sponsoring free flu shot clinics for employees.

"We've probably immunized a third of our employees already so far, so that's really very encouraging." said Lourdes Nurse Mary Ellen Whalen.

Last month, the New York State Department of Health announced all health care workers are required to get vaccinated.

That means everyone from doctors and nurses to administrators and cafeteria staff.

"The requirement basically comes down to protecting patients." said Lourdes Chief Human Resources Officer James Silkworth.

The Broome County Health Department is following the rule.

It's offering on site shots too.

"It is a condition of employment here at the Health Department, we are a public health care clinic." said Health Department Public Health Director Claudia Edwards.

The Health Department says before the state mandate, it's estimated that only half of health care workers were getting flu shots.

Lourdes Nurse Mary Ellen Whalen says she decided to get vaccinated a few years ago.

"I must admit in the beginning, I was a little reluctant, but since I've gotten it, I've been healthy." said Whalen.

"Our participation has been very high in the past, so hopefully this new requirement will be somewhat painless to implement." said Silkworth.

New York health workers have until November 30th to get vaccinated.

United Health Services says its also offering free flu shots to its employees.

It says it's not anticipating any resistance now that the vaccine is mandated.

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