Flu shot controversy bizarre

Sentinel editor Cameron Orr finds baffling the controversy around flu shots for health workers.

I can’t believe the flu shot is considered a contentious issue in this province.

I was reading a story that the Health Sciences Association of B.C. has filed a grievance on behalf of their workers, arguing against a new provincial policy that health care providers who do not get their flu shot must wear masks.

Those who do get a sticker indicating they’ve received it.

“They have a right to keep that private,” argues union president Reid Johnson.

“To be identified as having taken their flu shot or not taken it, we believe is a human rights issue.”

I can almost, almost, see their side of the argument.

Except these people are health care workers and there are times that I feel patient rights just plain trump human rights. (If you even buy that this is a human rights issue to begin with.)

Here’s how I see it; if I’m a patient being treated by a nurse or doctor or whomever, I feel better knowing they’ve taken care to either prevent illness for themselves or taken steps to reduce any possible transmission to me.

I’m not sick or broken by choice. I’m already in the health system in a vulnerable state.

Isn’t it disrespectful to me as a patient to be exposed to possible further illness?

I’m actually surprised care workers weren’t already required to have a shot. Health authorities tell people each year to get a flu shot if you’re around the elderly or children.

If I’m not mistaken, that’s a large chunk of the demographic who receives regular health care.

Wouldn’t it be incumbent on care givers to follow their own advice and take further steps to protect patients’ health?

I have to side with the dean of Simon Fraser University’s health science’s faculty John O’Neil who said in a Black Press story that it’s “irresponsible” for those in public health to not take every possible precaution.

Back to the union’s side, they argue that there are many reasons people don’t get a flu shot, due to personal, philosophical or religious reasons, and that needs to be respected.

Exactly. So grab a face mask.

Cameron Orr is the editor of the Northern Sentinel.