The New York State Department of Health is getting a taste of its own ultimatum medicine. With only 23% of the swine flu doses originally expected to arrive by the end of October reaching New York, the State Health Department has to choose: Uphold a regulation that all healthcare workers receive the shot (which was temporarily blocked by a State Supreme Court judge last week) or make sure those most at risk receive the shot.

The State Health Department has chosen to vaccinate those most at risk.

Claudia Hutton, a spokeswoman for the State Health Department to the New York Times, said “Since the vaccine is so scarce right now and since the virus has proved especially difficult for pregnant women and young people — there have been deaths — we felt that the best use of the scarce amount of vaccine right now is for those populations.”

Hutton added that the change of policy — which was announced late Thursday in a statement from the office of Gov. David A. Paterson — was not influenced by the litigation, “Even while the mandate was in effect, we were telling our hospital workers that if you have a choice of vaccinating patients or workers, please vaccinate patients.”

The judge's ruling is pending a hearing set for October 30.