Brigham And Womens Patient Ineligible For Heart Transplant Because He Isnt Vaccinated Against Covid Health Experts Explain Why
A 31-year-old man in need of a heart transplant in Boston cannot get one because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.
DJ Ferguson refuses to get the shot, according to WBZ, making him ineligible due to Brigham and Womens Hospital policy, as health experts agree that being vaccinated is necessary for the procedure.
The organs are scarce, we are not going to distribute them to someone who has a poor chance of living when others who are vaccinated have a better chance post-surgery of surviving, Dr. Arthur Caplan, who runs Medical Ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine told the TV station.
Ferguson is a father of two children with another baby on the way. His family is looking for any and all options while theres still time, but support his decision to not get vaccinated.
There are multiple reasons why patients need to get vaccinated before a transplant, according to Northwestern School of Medicine. First, the experts said that heart transplant recipients are high risk for diseases like the flu and pneumonia. This is the same for COVID, which can kill someone who received transplants unvaccinated.
Second, in rare cases, viruses like hepatitis B can be passed on through blood transfusions or by transplanted organs.
Still, Ferguson is steadfast in his decision to not get the COVID vaccine.
Expert Advice: Choosing The Best Flu Vaccine For Your Family
Most kids hate getting shots. And most parents hate taking their kids to the pediatrician to get a shot. Thats why, during flu season, the nasal spray version of the vaccine has been a popular choice for parents and pediatricians who dont want to inflict the stress of a shot on kids. But this year, the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics are recommending against the use of the nasal spray.
Dr. Anne Beckett from Brigham and Womens Family Care Associates at Brigham and Womens Faulkner Hospital explains, The nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended this season because of concerns that it did not work as well as the injectable vaccination last year. The CDC found that last season the nasal spray vaccine effectiveness among children aged 2 through 17 was only 3 percent.
Experts do not know why the nasal spray flu vaccine was ineffective last year. However, they do know that the flu shot was effective. The CDC found that last season, flu shots reduced a childs risk of ending up at the doctors office sick with the flu by more than 60 percent, says Dr. Beckett. The flu shot is not perfect. Some children who are vaccinated may still get sick. However, studies show that if they do, the flu shot may make their illness milder.
Get Your Shot Before Flu Starts Spreading
The CDC recommends yearly flu vaccines for people 6 months and older. Its best to get your vaccine by the end of October. But if you miss that date, get vaccinated to protect yourself and others.
Paul Edward Sax, MD, is the clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Womens Hospital.
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Why Brigham And Women’s Introduced A Mandate
According to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts public health officials have been pushing hospitals to improve their worker vaccination rates. During the last flu season, health worker vaccination rates varied significantly by hospital, ranging from 62% to 99%.
At Brigham and Women’s, the employee vaccination rate is about 77%. Hospital spokesperson Erin McDonough says efforts to improve the ratewhich have included offering no-cost shots at any timehave done little.
With the mandate, Brigham hopes to bring its vaccination rate on par with that of other teach hospital in the area, which generally vaccinate at least 90% of their workers.
Judge Shoots Down Union Attempt To Roll Back Brigham And Women’s Flu Shot Policy: 7 Things To Know
A judge ruled in favor of Boston-based Brigham and Women’s Hospital after nurses challenged the hospital’s flu shot policy, according to The Boston Globe.
Here are seven things to know.
1. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Anthony Campo dismissed a lawsuit from the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents about 3,400 Brigham nurses, according to the report.
2. In his ruling, the judge said nurses did not have the legal standing to file a lawsuit questioning the legality of the flu shot policy, reports The Boston Globe.
3. The hospital’s flu shot policy states employees must receive annual flu vaccines. There are exemptions for employees who refuse to get vaccinated for health or religious reasons. However, The Boston Globe reports employees who opt out of the policy must wear face masks around patients.
4. Late last year, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Robert Tochka denied a request from the MNA to immediately block the policy. In his ruling, the judge said, “MNA’s speculative claim of potential harm to an unspecified number of unidentified nurses is not adequate to outweigh the risk of harm to the hospital, its employees, and its patients if there is an outbreak of the flu.”
5. The union has taken issue with what they say is potential punishment for certain employees who don’t comply with the policy. The hospital has said the policy “was implemented to ensure we provide the highest quality, safest environment for our patients, visitors and our employees.”
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How Do The Flu And Covid
Both viruses can spread easily from one person to another, between people who are in close contact. Flu and COVID-19 are spread mainly by droplets released when people with either illness cough, sneeze or talk. Droplets can travel through the air and land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. These people may inhale droplets into the lungs.
For flu and some respiratory viruses, it is also possible to get infected by physical contact with other people. For example, you may pass infection by shaking hands or hugging another person. Some people may get infected by touching a surface or object that has virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
Both the flu virus and the coronavirus may be spread to others by people before they begin having symptoms or when they have very mild symptoms. Some people are infected with these viruses and never develop symptoms. When a person is infected but doesnt have symptoms, theyre called asymptomatic. But asymptomatic people can still spread infection to others.
Chances For Best Outcome
Hospitals in other states have faced similar criticism for denying transplants to patients who weren’t vaccinated against COVID-19.
In Colorado last year, a woman suffering from late-stage kidney disease said she was denied a transplant by her hospital because she was unvaccinated. Leilani Lutali, a born-again Christian, said she opposed immunization because of the role that fetal cell lines play in some vaccines’ development.
There is a scarcity of donor organs, so transplant centres only place patients on the waiting list whom they deem the most likely to survive with a new organ.
“A donor heart is a precious and scarce gift which must be cared for well,” said Dr. Howard Eisen, medical director for the advanced heart failure program at Penn State University in Hershey, Penn. “Our goal is to preserve patient survival and good outcomes post-transplant.”
The United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit that manages the country’s organ transplant system, doesn’t track how many patients refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine have been denied transplants, said Anne Paschke, an organization spokesperson.
She said patients who are denied organ transplants still have the right to go elsewhere, though individual hospitals ultimately decide which patients to add to the national wait list.
“It’s devastating,” Tracey Ferguson said. “No one ever wants to see their child go through something like this.”
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Time To Get Your Flu Shot: 5 Things To Know
The Brigham is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our patients, their loved ones and Brigham personnel by minimizing the risk of hospital-acquired infections, such as the flu. Even if you do not visit the hospital and clinical sites, you may expose others who do and thus transmit the flu to patients. The single best way to avoid getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading the virus to others is to get the annual influenza vaccine.
Per hospital policy, all Brigham personnel must receive a seasonal flu shot, unless they are approved for an exemption based on a medical contraindication, sincerely held religious beliefs or working remotely 100 percent of the time.
Important Information About Covid
All patients and visitors are screened for possible symptoms of COVID-19 and given a mask to wear regardless of vaccination status. Visitors to the central flu clinic are expected to be healthy and well. If you have upper respiratory symptoms including fever, sore throat or cough, please postpone your visit. The flu shot does not protect against COVID-19. Visit vaccines.gov or Mass.gov to find a COVID-19 vaccination site near you.
Information about the flu from MassGeneral Hospital for Children.
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Who Should Get The Flu Vaccine
Everyone age 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine. Like COVID-19, the flu is an illness that can lead to serious health complications and even death. Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself. It can help reduce your risk of getting the flu or needing medical care in a hospital.
Pregnant people, people age 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions are at increased risk of serious health problems from both viruses. And while most young children seem to be less affected by COVID-19, the flu can cause serious illness in children.
Get your flu vaccine as soon as possible. It takes the body about 2 weeks after vaccination to make enough antibodies to protect you from flu infection. Children who are getting the flu vaccine for the first time may need two doses, given several weeks apart. Pregnant people can safely get the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination during pregnancy allows pregnant people to pass antibodies to their baby during pregnancy and after birth through breastfeeding. This helps protect babies younger than 6 months who are too young to get their own flu or COVID-19 vaccines.
Why Is The Flu Vaccine Important
A flu vaccine not only protects you from getting the flu, it can also reduce your risk from flu complications. A flu vaccine makes it less likely you will get the flu. It may not prevent the flu completely, but even if you do get the flu, you will probably get less sick.
Also, this year, it is important to get a flu vaccine because of COVID-19. The flu vaccine does NOT protect you from COVID-19. But, the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are very similar. Getting a flu vaccine will decrease the number of people who have flu-like symptoms and need for COVID-19 testing.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine. There are different types of flu vaccines. Some flu vaccines are meant for over those who are 65 years and older. If you are 65 or older, you should get these vaccines, when available.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health requires the flu vaccine for all students 6 months of age or older who are attending Massachusetts child care, pre-school, and K-12 schools, as well as students under 30 attending post-secondary institutions, with limited exceptions.
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How Is This Flu Season Different
The 2020-2021 flu season was the mildest on record, probably due to the measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. As our behavior has changed over the past few months with decreased social distancing and return to in-person learning for children, we have seen increased spread of some respiratory viruses such as rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial virus . We are likely to see increased spread of flu as well, but its difficult to predict how severe this flu season will be.
With COVID-19 continuing to spread in our communities, the addition of circulating flu could stress health care capacity.
It is impossible to distinguish between COVID-19 and flu based on symptoms alone. If both viruses are spreading in your community and you have symptoms, ask your health care provider about getting a diagnostic test. The result will help guide your treatment. It also helps determine how long you need stay home from school or work so that you dont spread infection to others.
We need to use all the tools in our toolkit to decrease the risk of spreading viruses. The most important prevention tool we have is vaccination and I would stress the importance of getting both the COVID-19 vaccine and the influenza vaccine this season.
Daniel A. Solomon, MD
Brigham And Women’s Physician Group
Brigham and Women’s Physician Group provides comprehensive adult medical care. Located at Brigham and Women’s Health Care Center in Chestnut Hill, the internal medicine physician group provides health screening, comprehensive diagnostic work-ups, treatment and long-term care. Outpatient laboratory, radiology and specialty services are available on site.
When inpatient care is required, patients are admitted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital. All physicians on staff at the Brigham and Women’s Physician Group are fully board certified and full-time clinical faculty of Harvard Medical School. A full-time nursing and medical assistant staff works closely with the doctors at the site providing health educational information to patients and assisting directly in patient care and coordination of services.
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Hospital Patient Without Covid Vaccination Denied Heart Transplant
MENDON, Mass. A Boston hospital is defending itself after a mans family claimed he was denied a new heart for refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19, saying most transplant programs around the country set similar requirements to improve patients chances of survival.
The family of D.J. Ferguson said in a crowdfunding appeal this week that officials at Brigham and Womens Hospital told the 31-year-old father of two that he was ineligible for the procedure because he hasnt been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
We are literally in a corner right now. This is extremely time sensitive, the family said in its fundraising appeal, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars. This is not just a political issue. People need to have a choice!
D.J.s mother, Tracey Ferguson, insists that her son isnt against vaccinations, noting hes had other immunizations in the past. But the trained nurse said Wednesday that hes been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation an irregular and often rapid heart rhythm and that he has concerns about the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine.
D.J. is an informed patient, Tracey Ferguson said in a brief interview at her home in Mendon, about 30 miles southwest of Boston. He wants to be assured by his doctors that his condition would not be worse or fatal with this COVID vaccine.
Hospitals in other states have faced similar criticism for denying transplants to patients who werent vaccinated against Covid-19.
Myth #: The Vaccines Will Interact Negatively
The flu and COVID-19 vaccines are completely different types of shots that elicit unrelated reactions within the body, Kuritzkes said. They prompt different immune responses and antibodies to fight off the respective viruses.
For decades, it has been common to get vaccinated against several illnesses at once — young children and new parents, for instance, often receive combination shots like the TDaP shot for diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.
Moderna is developing a combination shot that would give a COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine in one dose.
There is absolutely no reason that the two shots would interact negatively, Kuritzkes said. The only potential for a worse outcome is having two sore arms instead of one.
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Flu Vaccines For Mass General Employees
Employees who need the vaccine can go to Occupational Health Services office for walk-in or call 617-726-2217 to schedule an appointment. If you received your vaccine from a Mass General primary care physician, refer to www.askmyhrportal.com for details on attesting to receipt of the vaccine in PeopleSoft.
Massachusetts General Hospital
Who Is Most At Risk For Complications From Flu
Those most at risk for complications and serious illness from flu include:
- People with chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes
- People with heart disease and those who have had a stroke
- Pregnant people
- Anyone whose immune system is compromised for any reason, including cancer
Paul Edward Sax, MD, an infectious disease doctor at Brigham and Womens Hospital, urges pregnant women to get the vaccine, for themselves and their unborn babies. As an infectious disease doctor, Ive seen pregnant women who are terribly sick with flu, and its such a difficult situation because theyre obviously trying to care for themselves and their unborn child, Dr. Sax says. Pregnant women really need to get the flu vaccine.
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Here Are Five Things To Know About Our 20192020 Flu Vaccination Program:
- Flu shots are due by Friday, Nov. 15. If you receive flu shot from Occupational Health Services or a Peer-to-Peer vaccinator, your flu shot will be automatically documented in PeopleSoft. If youre immunized anywhere else, additional steps are required to document your flu shot. Learn more.
- Exemption requests are due by Tuesday, Oct. 15. If you were approved for an exemption last year, you must reapply for this flu season by the Oct. 15 deadline.
- OHS will provide free flu shots for personnel at the main campus and at select sites across the distributed campus. Main campus clinics will be held Sept. 2128, 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sept. 29, 6:30 a.m. to noon, on the Braunwald Tower 2 mezzanine . View the complete schedule of flu shot clinics.
- For your convenience, Environmental Affairs will offer N95 respirator fit testing in Miller Atrium in the Shapiro Center on the same dates as the main campus flu-shot lobby clinics.
- Those who are not compliant with the mandatory flu vaccination policy by Nov. 15 will be placed on unpaid administrative leave and lose both badge and IS access. Between Nov. 15 and Nov. 30, the Brigham will make every effort to work with noncompliant individuals to obtain missing documentation or exemptions. Personnel who remain noncompliant on Monday, Dec. 2 will be unable to continue employment at the Brigham.