I AM proud to be a nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The Globe article Thursday failed to explain the main reason that the Brigham nurses are opposed to a policy of mandatory flu vaccinations (“Brigham and Women’s nurses sue over flu shot mandate,” Metro, Sept. 25).
The flu vaccine is only 59 percent effective and carries with it serious health risks, which are not disclosed to those receiving it. As of November 2013, the Federal Adverse Events Reporting System has received 93,000 reports of reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following flu vaccinations. These include 1,080 deaths, 8,888 hospitalizations and 1,811 related disabilities.
Nurses are more aware than the general public of this data, and many do not feel that the low effective rate of the vaccine warrants the health risk. This is so much more than the “pet peeve” described by the Massachusetts Hospital Association.
Brigham nurses use professional accountability and common sense to protect our patients and ourselves. We know that we should stay home when ill and have asked the hospital not to discipline nurses for using sick time for flu symptoms (administrators have declined this request). Our patients trust us with their lives, and we believe that they will trust us to make the right decision on this issue as well.
The writer is chairperson of the bargaining unit for the Massachusetts Nurses Association at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.