Every year as flu season gets closer, discussion invariably rises among acquaintances about whether they’ll get a shot. Furthermore, recommendations from health organizations encourage people to get that protection, especially those in certain higher risk groups.
Some see it as controversial, at least to a degree.
A ruling Thursday in British Columbia throws the issue into the spotlight.
An arbitrator there upheld a provincial government policy requiring health care workers to be immunized or, if not, to wear a mask if caring for patients in flu season, late November to late March.
The policy had been challenged. Members of the B.C. Health Sciences Association felt they should have the right to make personal health care decisions.
It does present a conundrum, although the arbitration is saying the policy is reasonable in regard to patient safety.
Also noted, many jurisdictions in the U.S. and one in northern New Brunswick have similar policies. Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.’s chief medical officer, says other provinces have watched the proceedings.
In Nova Scotia, health care workers are among those strongly recommended to get immunization.
In the more general discussion, such knowledge – that the community of health professionals requires it – does set an example for the public about the importance of immunization.
Interestingly, another report in the media this week focuses on benefits of the flu shot. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that people who recently had a heart attack or unstable angina had a 36 per cent lower risk of another heart attack or stroke in the year following receiving a flu shot. For those who specifically had suffered a heart attack, the vaccine meant a 55 per cent reduced risk of major cardiac event.
That news will certainly add to the discussion. People who have hesitated will likely continue pondering, but these two examples might prod more in the direction of those annual clinics.