Wednesday August 20, 2014

Health-care pros must be protected from the flu

The Association of Registered Nurses of B.C. (ARNBC) has carefully reviewed the evidence and takes the position that immunizing health-care workers reduces the risk of illness and death among their patients. The recently announced flu protection policy emphasizes workplace and patient safety, improved access to flu shots for health-care workers and other important flu prevention measures.

Your Nov. 19 editorial (Mandatory Shots Asking For Trouble) claims that the flu shot is ineffective and emphasizes side effects that happen very rarely. Actually, the science is clear that the flu shot targets the most common types of flu in any given year and provides the best public health protection available.

ARNBC believes that all health care providers should receive the flu shot annually to protect themselves, their families and those in their care. Those who choose to not be vaccinated because of medical, religious or philosophical reasons can still protect themselves and their patients by choosing to wear a mask.

Historically in B.C., less than 50 per cent of health-care workers receive the flu shot, even though health authorities provide it to their workers for free. Nurses and other health-care workers come in constant contact with people whose health is already compromised and who are at a high risk of complications or death from an illness the rest of the population is much better equipped to fight off.

Like all health professions, nurses feel a strong sense of responsibility to protect their patients from transmissible diseases. No health professional wants to be responsible for spreading the flu.



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