State Supreme Court temporarily halts mandatory H1N1 vaccine program for healthcare workers

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The New York State Supreme Court has temporarily suspended a controversial rule that would require most healthcare workers to receive both the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines.

The rule, which would require workers receive the vaccines by Nov. 30, has been met with hostility from many in the healthcare field. State Supreme Court Justice Thomas McNamara decided to issue the temporary restraining order after three lawsuits were filed. The Public Employees Federation, nurses at the Albany Medical Center, and members of New York State United Teachers union claimed the health department overstepped its authority in requiring the vaccinations, violating the workers' civil and constitutional rights. The judge has set a hearing date for Oct 30.

In related news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that supplies of the H1N1 vaccine are not as plentiful as originally anticipated. The agency plans to release 30 million more doses of the vaccine before the end of the month, but according to CDC officials, that number was supposed to be closer to 40 million. One official has attributed the low number of vaccines to production delays.

The Food and Drug Administration, meanwhile, has been cracking down on counterfeit swine flu remedies. The agency said Thursday that there were a growing number of products available on the Internet that claim to prevent, treat or cure H1N1. Some of these products are phony versions of the drug Tamiflu, and could prove dangerous to consumers, according to the FDA.