Although 90 percent of Massachusetts nurses and healthcare workers willingly receive a flu shot, the remainder is often confronted with a decision to either accept the flu shot or potentially lose their job. Many nurses refuse flu shots based on medical, religious or personal reasons. Hospitals have become nothing short of totalitarian in regards to acceptance of flu shot resistance, but fortunately, the nurses union is siding with the nurses.
The union claims that such totalitarianism is a violation of health workers’ civil liberties. One year ago, Massachusetts Nurses Association filed a lawsuit against Brigham and Women’s Hospital for requiring every health worker receive a flu shot with the exception of those who have medical or religious exemptions, or, who choose to wear a mask while on the premises.
A Suffolk Superior Court judge recently threw the lawsuit out.
“We’re not against vaccination, but there are people who have legitimate concerns about it,” said David Schildmeier, a union spokesman, who said the hospital was threatening to fire nurses who didn’t comply. “They shouldn’t be forced to put something in their body if they don’t want to.”
The union, clearly, was not thrilled by the judge’s decision to disregard the claim.
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“We are gratified that the court has affirmed our right to implement this policy,” hospital spokeswoman Lori Schroth said in a statement.
Hospitals are being placed under severe strain to up their flu shot numbers. Hospitals are forced to disclose their vaccine rates to the state.
“Health care workers are on the front-lines of exposure so there’s a higher potential for them to transmit influenza to patients and colleagues,” said Dr. Alfred DeMaria, medical director for the state Department of Public Health’s Bureau of infectious disease prevention. “So, obviously, we want them to get vaccinated.”
Via Salem News
At North Shore Medical Center in Salem, doctors, nurses and other employees are urged to get vaccinated. But the shots, which are offered for free, aren’t mandated, according to spokeswoman Casey Chuy.
“Employees who decline the influenza vaccine due to medical contraindication, religious beliefs or personal choice, are required to wear a surgical mask while working during flu season to protect patients and other staff from possible exposure to influenza,” she said.
Surgical masks seem to be the modern Scarlet letter these days.