People who work in the health care field and have contact with patients should get flu shots - whether they want to or not.

It's that simple.

And that complicated, apparently.

Require people to get the influenza vaccine? Yes - in the case of health care workers. The issue isn't their own health - it's the health of the patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities. These people - already sick or infirm - should not be subject to an increased risk of contracting the flu because the people who care for them refuse to be vaccinated.

Frankly, we would think health care facilities would make an annual flu shot a requirement of employment. Don't want a flu shot? Fine. Find another way to earn a living - one that doesn't involve willfully exposing sick people to an illness that could kill them.

Some hospitals do require employees to get the vaccine. But most don't.

And neither the state Legislature nor the governor apparently have the will to require health care workers to get the shots.

Last year, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed one measure. "The specter of intrusive oversight of personal medical choices is inconsistent with basic notions of individual decision making and should not be lightly adopted as state policy," Christie said in 2012.

Another bill is now moving through the Legislature, supported by lawmakers who say their intent is to make sure all health care workers are immunized.

But neither last year's bill nor this year's measure actually require the flu shots. In both cases, the bills simply require health care facilities to offer the vaccine to employees, who remain free to refuse.

Even that was too much for Christie. And lawmakers are now patting themselves on the back over the new bill, which was unanimously released from the Senate Health Committee this week - a bill that is just as toothless as last year's measure.

So who is opposed to such a basic, common-sense public-health measure as requiring health care workers to get flu shots?

Enter Sue Collins, of the New Jersey Alliance for Informed Choice in Vaccination. She told that the vaccine can be dangerous and that some people who die from the flu have had flu shots, adding: "How do we know there's not a correlation?"

To which the only appropriate response is: OMG.

This kind of anti-science, anti-vaccine nonsense is guiding public-health policy in New Jersey?

The flu vaccine is safe. It saves lives. It does not give you the flu. And health care workers should not be allowed to risk infecting the people in their care.

The current bill - S1464 - is better than nothing. But it still falls far short.

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