Mandatory Influenza Vaccinations: An Example of Health Promotion Theater

Anita Miko and Monica K. Miller

In 2009, New York became the first state to issue a policy requiring health care personnel to obtain influenza vaccinations. This law can be described as “health promotion theater,” a term introduced to describe health policies that have good intentions but carry negative outcomes. Moral panics have produced crime control policies with similar characteristics; called “crime control theater.” The proposed notion of “health promotion theater” is derived from and compared to “crime control theater.” In this article, moral panic over the H1N1 virus is introduced as the policy’s catalyst, “health promotion theater’s” components are defined, and alternative solutions are offered to more effectively achieve the policy´s ultimate intent. Finally, educating policymakers is offered as a way to avoid laws that are essentially “health promotion theater.”