MNA Board Makes Its Position Clear on Rights of Nurses Related to Flu Vaccine Declination Forms
As the flu season approaches, hospitals have stepped up their efforts to vaccinate staff. In so doing, the MNA has received reports from its members that some hospital officials are informing nurses, either in writing or verbally, that the Department of Public Health and/or the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organizations (JCAHO) requires a signed declination form if you decide not to have the flu vaccine. Some facilities have forms stating you are refusing the vaccine and further requiring you to indicate why you have refused.
We want to make clear that in acute care hospital settings nurses are NOT REQUIRED to sign any form regarding your decision to decline the vaccination or to give any rationale either verbally or in writing regarding your decision to decline. At this time, the only exception would be long-term care facilities (Code of Massachusetts Regulations – Title 105: Department of Public Health Chapter 150.000: Licensing of Long-Term Care Facilities). While the legislation was initiated last year regarding a requirement for health workers to be vaccinated, this legislation was NOT passed.
We have confirmed with JCAHO that signed declination forms for refusal and/or the requiring rationale for refusal are NOT a condition or standard for JCAHO accreditation.
The MNA has recently sent a letter to DPH Commissioner, John Auerbach as a result of a resurgence of the flu vaccination declination form. The letter was sent to DPH in order to assure the organization’s position is not misunderstood. While we are very much in favor and encourage MNA members to utilize the available flu vaccine, we also support the right to decline the flu shot without an explanation or written documentation for refusal.
So in short, while MNA encourages members to avail themselves of available flu vaccine, we want to make sure members are fully aware that you are not required to sign any form should you decline nor give any rationale for your decision to decline.