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Canada - Should the flu shot be mandatory for health care workers?

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  • Canada - Should the flu shot be mandatory for health care workers?

    Should the flu shot be mandatory for health care workers? Staff
    Published Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 8:33AM EST

    Despite mounting evidence showing that the flu shot is the most effective way to protect against the virus, a Toronto-based infection control specialist says many health-care workers are still not getting vaccinated, putting vulnerable patients at risk.

    Dr. Allison McGeer, of Mount Sinai Hospital, says that hospitals and nursing homes throughout Canada need to begin discussing the value of mandatory influenza vaccinations for health-care workers.

    “There’s now very solid evidence that when you vaccinate health care workers there is less death in the patients they take of,” McGeer told CTV’s Canada AM on Friday. “This is clearly a patient safety issue… the vulnerable patients in our hospitals are at risk of getting influenza and dying of influenza and we have an obligation to protect them. The question is how we do that best.”

    McGeer comments follow news that hospitals in London, Ont. will soon begin requiring staff doctors and visitors to be vaccinated against the flu or wear masks if they are in a ward with a hospital-acquired influenza case.

    And in early December, the B.C. government backed away – at least temporarily – from a controversial plan to force thousands of provincial health-care works to get the shot before working with patients after three unions launched grievances. Instead, the B.C. Health Ministry said it will work toward compliance from workers in the first year of the program.

    Meanwhile, in the U.S., an Indiana hospital fired eight nurses after they refused mandatory flu shots. The nurses said they had a right to refuse the vaccine.

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    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela