BOSTON (CBS) – The Massachusetts Nurses Association wants a judge to stop Brigham and Women’s Hospital from requiring employees to receive the influenza vaccine.

The nurses’ union, which represents about 3,200 registered nurses at Brigham and Women’s, filed a complaint in Suffolk Superior Court this week. The union believes a mandatory flu shot policy violates an individual’s right to refuse.

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Read the full complaint

State regulations on health care workers say a hospital cannot require an employee to receive the vaccine if he or she objects for medical or religious reasons, or if “the individual declines the vaccine.”

The nurses complaint asks the court to stop Brigham & Women’s from enforcing the policy.

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On Thursday, the hospital sent WBZ the following statement:

“Influenza is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death in the United States. It can be transmitted by health care personnel to vulnerable patients. In the interest of protecting our patients, their families, and our staff, we have tried for a number of years to increase voluntary participation among our employees. Despite our best efforts, our vaccination rate remains at approximately 77%, compared to our local peer institutions who mandate flu vaccination for their employees and achieve a 95-100% vaccination rate each year.

“We believe that we have interpreted the regulation correctly, but will await clarification before implementing a mandatory policy. In the meantime, we are moving ahead with our annual employee flu vaccination program and encouraging all employees to get vaccinated.”

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