As Massachusetts hospitals deal with one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory, they received some good news last week when a Suffolk Superior Court judge threw out a Massachusetts Nurses Association lawsuit that challenged Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s mandatory flu vaccination policy for employees.
A number of hospitals in Massachusetts require caregivers to receive flu vaccines each year, unless they have a medical or religious exemption, in which case the healthcare worker needs to wear a face mask in the presence of patients. All hospitals in the commonwealth strongly encourage their workers to get vaccinated and offer free flu vaccine to their employees.
As a recent DPH survey showed (see story above) staff sicknesses reverberate through the hospitals resulting in overworked colleagues, overtime pay, and the use of travel nurses.
For years, the MNA has tried to make one non-starter argument after another against mandatory flu vaccination, garnering strong opposition as far back as 2014 from members of the general public and physicians, who de-bunked the union leadership’s incorrect claims that there were a number of adverse events related to flu vaccine – when in fact serious health risks due to flu vaccine is rare. The nurses’ union’s latest objections – that mandatory vaccination is an overreach and unfair given that the vaccine sometimes has limited efficacy – didn’t hold water with the judge or with medical professionals.
“Getting a flu shot is safe, it’s the best way to protect against the influenza virus, and it can prevent unnecessary anxiety and waste of healthcare resources,” said MHA’s V.P. of Clinical Integration Steve Defossez, M.D. “As healthcare providers, our members are responsible for promoting public health and should be role models. As centers for care, hospitals will continue to be proactive in ensuring the safest conditions possible for their patients, families, and healthcare professionals alike.”