Nurses file lawsuit over mandatory flu vaccine

  1. I read some post regarding this matter and then
    I saw this on CNN and then it took me to this site. I thought it was interesting.
    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/63144732.html

    SEATTLE - A union representing 16,000 registered nurses in Washington state has filed a federal lawsuit against MultiCare Health System for implementing a mandatory flu vaccination policy.

    "This new policy will force nurses to get the flu vaccination or to wear face masks as a condition of employment and may result in the firing of nurses who do not comply with the policy," the union said in a statement.

    The lawsuit, filed by the Washington State Nurses Association, seeks an injunction to stop the policy from being implemented at both Tacoma General and Good Samaritan hospitals.

    The nurses' union said in a statement that it supports a voluntary vaccination program, but that any mandatory policy should be overseen by the state or federal government.

    "Any mandatory vaccination policy should be implemented on a federal or state level, not through a patchwork of hospital-by-hospital policies," said Judy Huntington, executive director of the nurses' association.

    The union said it was in the midst of negotiating a flu prevention program it they learned from the nurses that MultiCare had unilaterally implemented a mandatory vaccination policy.

    "MultiCare's unilateral implementation of this policy blatantly ignores their legal obligation to bargain with the union," said Barbara Frye, the association's assistant executive director of labor relations.

    "Their refusal to bargain and to cease and desist forced us to take this extraordinary measure to seek relief from federal court," she said.

    The union said MultiCare's proposed plan would require unvaccinated nurses to wear a surgical mask at all times while on duty even though there is a lack of research showing that masks actually prevent flu transmission.
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  2. 112 Comments

  3. by   Angels_wearScrubs
    I read the article, are they going to require JUST the nurses, or all HCP's? doctors nurses aides and clerks to get the vaccine. What about people who walk into the hospital? are visitors going to have to get the shot when they visit? or wear masks?
  4. by   Chapis
    good question there-angels_wearscrubs
  5. by   Moogie
    Quote from chicookie
    SEATTLE - A union representing 16,000 registered nurses in Washington state has filed a federal lawsuit against MultiCare Health System for implementing a mandatory flu vaccination policy.

    "This new policy will force nurses to get the flu vaccination or to wear face masks as a condition of employment and may result in the firing of nurses who do not comply with the policy," the union said in a statement.
    So, is the concern really for decreasing the spread of H1N1 or is it just the latest excuse for institutions to get rid of all those "pesky", expensive nurses? :angryfire
  6. by   chicookie
    Quote from Angels_wearScrubs
    I read the article, are they going to require JUST the nurses, or all HCP's? doctors nurses aides and clerks to get the vaccine. What about people who walk into the hospital? are visitors going to have to get the shot when they visit? or wear masks?

    Another thing on CNN that it was all the healthcare workers. I can't find it at the moment. But I bet it was the nurses that jumped into action.

    At my facility, all visitors have to wear a mask and kids younger than 5 are not allowed to visit. Jumping the gun I think but hey you do what you need to be safe.
  7. by   chicookie
    Quote from Moogie
    So, is the concern really for decreasing the spread of H1N1 or is it just the latest excuse for institutions to get rid of all those "pesky", expensive nurses? :angryfire

    A little bit of both I bet. Get rid of the trouble makers. Only stay with the nice nurses that follow the rules.:chuckle
  8. by   CraigB-RN
    I get the vaccine arguments, but what I don't understand is the mast issue. To me it just sounds like a union justifying it's existence. At least they were given an option. Shot or mask. It's a choice. It would be nice to see the actual policy. I guess maybe because I've worked in infectious diseases and infection control and taken care of resistant TB and even a few pt's with bad stuff like Ebola over the years that I don't get the argument over the mask. In the OR I've work a mask for 8 hours at a time. What's the big deal?
  9. by   hoyt69
    I am offended at being told I MUST be vaccinated. If my hospital demands that all patients and visitors get vaccinated then I will agree to it. I do not want the vaccine, I do not have to justify why I don't want a vaccine any more than a patient has to justify why they are refusing a medication. If I or any other nurse tried to make a patient take a medication or vaccine they did not want we would need a lawyer and a new career. While I do not see what a mask will do except to try and force the staff to comply, I will wear one if only to show management that they cannot make me do something against my will. I am not alone, many nurses on my floor are very offended by this demand and have decided not to have the vaccine. This is not about health concerns, we are angered at being told we HAVE to have a vaccine that we do not want. Today it is the H1N1 vaccine, what will be next?
  10. by   wooh
    Agree with hoyt. I'll be wearing a mask. The mask has nothing to do with infection control but it's a threat (that's sadly working at my hospital) to convince people to get the shot. If they REALLY thought the mask was for infection control and not as punishment, then NOW while H1N1 is going around, they should be making everyone wear the mask since nobody's vaccinated for it, instead of waiting until vaccines are available and saying we have to wear one then. But that would cost money for all the masks.
  11. by   criticalHP
    I've posted this in another forum, but though it appropraite here as well. I can envision our hosptial attempting to mandate vaccines soon.
    In an effort to prevent the spread of H1N1 flu our organization states it will screen all employees for s/s of influenza BEFORE clocking in. They plan on taking everyones temperature and asking health questions prior to each oncoming persons shift. Not only will they pre-screen but they will randomly check staffs temperature throughout the day/night and send you home if you are deemed in their eyes unfit to work. We are a union hospital. I guess I'm questioning their right to do so. Has anyone elses facilities taken such a measure as to pre-screen to determine being fit for work due to influenza scare? But in the mean time...
  12. by   youngvil
    I live in New York State and the State is mandating all healthcare workers to get the H1N1 and flu vaccine this year. If you don't get the vaccines, you will not be allowed to work. Our union representative from NYSNA say we have to get the vaccines. All employees at the hospital were I am employed will be receiving the vaccines. I am fine with the Flu vaccine but have concerns with the H1N1 and the unreleased data.
  13. by   hiddencatRN
    Are there exceptions for people who have had bad reactions to previous flu vaccines or who are allergic to eggs? A mandatory vaccine without an exception for people whose health would be compromised by it is troubling.

    And the H1N1 vaccine is new- I plan to get it when it is available, but that's a decision I've made after weighing the pros and cons. I think it is reasonable for people to not want to receive that vaccine.

    I thought the flu was droplet born? There's an outbreak of swineflu at my mother's boarding school and the kids are isolated and people wear isolation gear around them with the regular paper masks, not the N95 masks.
  14. by   flightnurse2b
    Quote from wooh
    Agree with hoyt. I'll be wearing a mask. The mask has nothing to do with infection control but it's a threat (that's sadly working at my hospital) to convince people to get the shot. If they REALLY thought the mask was for infection control and not as punishment, then NOW while H1N1 is going around, they should be making everyone wear the mask since nobody's vaccinated for it, instead of waiting until vaccines are available and saying we have to wear one then. But that would cost money for all the masks.

    absolutely agree with this.
    the mask is for humiliation and i refused the shot and walked around with a mask on for my entire shift. i even had one pt be like "omg, why do you have a mask on? am i contagious? are you contagious? i dont want you to be my nurse if you're sick"... and once i explained to her WHY i had the mask on, she said that was one of the most rediculous things she had ever heard.

    no one is safe from the H1N1 virus except for the people who have had it already, really. if we as health care providers have to wear a mask to "protect our patients", then why doesn't their family have to wear them? why doesn't the administration have to wear them? why don't the cafeteria workers have to wear them? we all have the chance to be exposed to it just by going to the grocery store.

    i think the issue is not only humiliation, but the idea of... well if this pandemic really does start and the hospital fills up with patients who have H1N1, these nurses better not be sick and better show up to work... because who else is going to take care of them??

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