Brigham and Women's mandatory flu shot policy prompts nursing suit: 7 things to know

A union representing nurses at Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital is standing up against the facility's new policy mandating flu vaccines for employees, reports The Boston Globe.

Here are seven things to know.

1. Brigham's new policy mandates employees receive annual flu vaccines.

2. Employees may opt out of the new policy for health or religious reasons, although those who do opt out must put on face masks around patients, according to the report.

3. The Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents thousands of Brigham nurses, is suing the hospital over the new policy. The union claims nurses who opt out of the new policy for reasons unrelated to health or religion are unfairly and unlawfully penalized, according to the report. The union also claims nurses should be the decision-makers when it comes to flu vaccines.

4. Overall, the MNA hopes to block the new policy before its Oct. 1 effective date.

5. Hospital officials are backing the new policy. "The hospital is moving forward with implementing this policy because we believe that mandating the vaccine will create the safest-possible environment for our patients, visitors and staff," Brigham spokesperson Lori Schroth told The Boston Globe via email. "Influenza can carry significant health risks, especially for someone who has a compromised immune system."

6. Other healthcare organizations are also supportive of healthcare workers getting vaccinated. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health "encourages" flu vaccines for hospital employees without a medical reason to forgo the vaccine, according to the report. Additionally, the CDC recommends "everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season."

7. Last year, 91 percent of Brigham and Women's staff received a flu vaccine, and the hospital hopes to have an improved number this year, reports The Boston Globe. Brigham told the hospital the deadline for hospital employees to receive their flu vaccine is Dec. 1.


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