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New state health law to protect patients

Starting this month all area health care facilities will now require employees to be vaccinated.

Senate Bill 7 was passed in 2011 by the Texas State Legislature.

Starting this month health care facilities are required to better protect patients from vaccine preventable diseases.

Protecting patients from preventable diseases is as simple as getting a shot. A new law requires health care facilities to have a policy requiring employees or anyone who comes into contact with patients to be vaccinated.

"We owe it to our patients to make sure we are washing our hands, to make sure we are giving the right medicines to the right patients at the right time, to make sure we've had our inoculations. There are so many safety features in a hospital, and this is one more that I think every patient can really feel a lot better about coming to the hospital," Mary Barlow with Baptist St. Anthony's Hospital says.

Area hospitals collaborated on what vaccines to require. The list includes flu, MMR, hepatitis B, chicken pox and pertusses.

"All of those need to be up to date with the idea that patients shouldn't have to be exposed to people carrying diseases we could have prevented," Roger Smalligan, MD with Texas Tech University School of Medicine says.

He say even the simple flu can have big effects.

"Just by coughing, sneezing you can transmit the disease and someone can become ill. We know that people who have underlying heart disease, lung disease, cancer, all these people are at great risk for even death, you know illness and even death from the flu," Smalligan says.

Texas is the first state to enact this law. But, not everyone is going to be happy about it.

"I think as Texans, none of us like to be told what to do. So I don't think anybody likes to say you are going to be forced now to receive this vaccine. And, there are exceptions if you feel you have a religious reasons not to get it, or if you have a medical reason not to get these vaccines there is an exception in the law," Smalligan says.

Those who do not get vaccinated are required to wear masks any time they are in patient areas.

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