Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Health Workers Need Flu Shots

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Health Workers Need Flu Shots

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Health workers need flu shots

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An editorial from the Waterloo Region Record, published Nov. 2:

Physician, inoculate thyself.

Every autumn, for as long as we can remember, doctors, nurses and other health-care workers have urged, warned and cajoled Canadians to roll up their sleeves and get a flu shot. Repeatedly, the public was told this momentary, relatively painless jab was the best way to fight an illness that annually claims up to 8,000 lives and sends another 20,000 people to hospital in this country.

Nor was this something individuals should do solely for their own well-being. It was sold as being the civic duty of every responsible citizen who didn't want to spread a harmful infection to vulnerable children and seniors, or prompt an epidemic.

Good counsel the health-care professionals have been giving us. It's too bad so many of them cavalierly ignore the advice themselves, especially because they so often work with the very patients who are most vulnerable to influenza and those spreading it.

Across Ontario, more than 40 per cent of health-care workers refuse the yearly flu vaccination. It's a trend that is too common across the country and, not surprisingly, has led to increasingly loud calls for mandatory flu shots for all health-care workers.

British Columbia recently legislated all health-care workers to get inoculated or wear health masks while treating patients during the many months of flu season. That's strong medicine. But the prescription is increasingly popular.

Public Health Ontario -- this province's health agency -- recently demanded the compulsory vaccination of all health-care professionals as a condition of employment. And just a few days ago, the Canadian Medical Association Journal echoed the call for mandatory flu shots for health-care workers.

There are strong arguments favouring such action. Dr. Mary Vearncombe, chair of Public Health Ontario's infectious disease advisory committee, argues convincingly that health-care workers have a professional responsibility to provide the safest possible care to their patients. …

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