A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from enforcing a new rule on vaccinations in hospitals and other health care facilities.
The court filing released Wednesday afternoon temporarily prevents the agency from prohibiting health care workers from receiving vaccinations unless they are independently examined by a board of health physicians and clinicians.
The federal agency said in June that it would prevent health care professionals from receiving vaccinations if the authors of a given article state that they hold a personal or professional objection to vaccines.
Under the terms of the regulations, the USDA is allowed to review the reports of health care workers who have personal or professional objections, which means they can look into whether the individuals are indeed unvaccinated, said Dr. Pamela M. Wall, a neurologist who is part of the National Vaccine Information Center’s parent organization, on a call held Tuesday.
But Dr. Vanessa Cullins, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco who worked for a time as a state pediatrician before becoming an outspoken advocate for getting parents to vaccinate their children, said the USDA’s review process is not rigorous enough. It should be decided upon by a board, she said, that includes both practitioners and parents.
“It would not be a good idea to have a paternalistic approach, because at that point you are a doctor who does not see the child and cannot talk about the care they are receiving,” she said.
Dr. Wall also said that the issue can be politically charged because the definition of a personal medical objection is so broad, and therefore can stretch in unpredictable ways.
The case was brought by the National Vaccine Information Center and other activist groups to try to quash the new rule, which will also give parents and guardians who do not want to vaccinate their children the right to refuse vaccinations for their children, regardless of whether they were vaccinated themselves.