“Every year, as many as 8,000 Canadians die from the flu. Another 20,000 are hospitalized. They are often old or sick and are already in the care of doctors and nurses. So there is more than a little irony in the fact that many of these medical professionals are reluctant to get their annual flu shot.
While most of us take the routine jab-in-the-arm like good citizens, too many health care workers don’t get vaccinated, exposing patients in their care to days of fever and chills — or worse.
Their aversion to the annual flu shot is well documented. In Toronto, more than half don’t bother. Across Ontario, more than 40 per cent go without. That is far too many unprotected workers, especially when the precious health of patients is at risk.
This has gone on too long. It is time to make it mandatory for health care workers to get the annual influenza vaccine.
Ontario’s public health agency recently said it wants all health care professionals to get vaccinated as a condition of employment. Its call for action got a powerful boost this week when the Canadian Medical Association Journal took a similar stand. The Journal cited evidence that there is less sickness and death among patients and staff when frontline workers are immunized. “It is time that all people who work in a health care institution be vaccinated,” wrote Ken Flegel, a medical doctor and senior associate editor of the Journal.
Such a move remains controversial. Earlier this month, when Public Health Ontario said the voluntary approach isn’t working, union leaders voiced outrage over the ethics of enforced vaccination. Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions asked, “Wouldn’t it be simpler just to have a slave labour force?”…”