Should Nurses Be Required to Get Flu Shots? - NBC Boston

Should Nurses Be Required to Get Flu Shots?

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    Nurses Fight Flu Vaccination Requirement

    The Massachusetts Nurses Association, representing thousands of nurses at Brigham and Women's Hospital, is fighting a new rule punishing members who refuse a flu shot.

    (Published Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017)

    A union representing thousands of nurses at a Massachusetts hospital says a new rule unfairly punishes members who refuse a flu shot.

    According to the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents nurses at Brigham and Women's Hospital, says those who refuse to cooperate and get shots could lose their jobs.

    "It's a dramatic overreach that will not result in better flu prevention," the union said in a statement. "Nurses, not their employer, should decide what goes into their bodies."

    The union also noted some nurses have had bad reactions to the vaccine.

    The MNA's lawsuit claims the hospital is violating a state rule that allows health care workers to decline vaccinations.

    Brigham and Women's says more than 90 percent of its nurses were vaccinated last year.

    "The hospital has a responsibility to provide the safest possible environment for our patients, their families and our employees," the hospital said in a statement.

    Hospital officials added that influenza can carry significant health risks, especially with someone who has a compromised immune system.

    The rule is not just nurses. The hospital told all 18,000 of its employees last week about the new policy. For now, the only exceptions are for medical or religious reasons, and employees who go without the flu shot need to wear face masks around patients.

    Back in 2014, the union sued the hospital after a similar vaccination policy was proposed. The hospital did not end up enforcing that rule.

    The new policy will go into effect Sunday, and the hospital says employees have until December first to get their flu shots.

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