EDITORIAL: Flu vaccines should be required for health care workers

Editor of the Northern Sentinel celebrates the recent ruling that health care workers must get a shot or wear a mask.

Health care is on my mind this week.

Partially that’s because I’ve spent the week physically feeling like I’ve been run into a rock wall by one of Wil-E-Coyote’s eternally defective Acme Roadrunner traps.

But it’s also because the whole debate about health care workers being required to get the flu shot is in the news again.

The introduction on the policy, where people in the health care field would either need to get immunized or wear a mask during the flu season, was objected to by the health care unions.

But a labour arbitrator rejected those objections.

As Black Press provincial reporter Tom Fletcher wrote in his report on this, the Health Sciences Association, a union representing lab techs and other specialists in the health care system, had argued that its members were entitled to make their own decision on whether to get the annual vaccine.

The report continues, arbitrator Robert Diebolt wrote that given the seriousness of influenza, a severe respiratory condition that causes death in frail elderly people each winter, increasing immunization protection is a reasonable policy for health care facilities.

I’m quite happy that this decision has come down. I thought when this whole issue erupted that it was quite silly.

I won’t pretend I like needles but if my job involved caring for people who are sick, it seems fair that immunization would be a part of the work.

It protects the health care worker from the flu, and protects their patients.

If I were a patient I’d certainly want to know my health care worker took reasonable steps not to be infectious.

The union may say getting a flu shot is a personal health decision, but it’s really not when you’re responsible for other people’s health.

Cameron Orr

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