Not so innocuous inoculation

BC Nurses’ Union not calling the shots

By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer

Last month, Provincial Health Officer Perry Kendall made the announcement that all health care workers are now required to either get a flu shot or wear a mask during flu season. For obvious reasons, the news had the BC Nurses’ Union (BCNU) up in arms. Among other things, the nurses weren’t happy about how they weren’t consulted before the new regulation was put in place.

Can you really blame the nurses? Clear out of the blue, rules are being imposed on them that ensure (or at least greatly improve their chances of) they’re remaining healthy and able throughout the season. The nerve! Now, not only are the nurses better protected against the flu, but the patients they work with have a better chance of not catching the seasonal malady as well. What’s next? Security cameras enforcing mandatory handwashing after using the facilities? I thought we lived in a democracy; this is pure tyranny. If a nurse doesn’t want to attempt to try and prevent the spread of disease and, in doing so, preserve their own health, then let them.

In all seriousness, they do have some valid concerns. “One, for example, is the requirement to wear a badge or a sticker that says, ‘I care, I’ve been immunized.’ I find it offensive,” said Debra McPherson, President of the BCNU. Promoting a potentially life-saving shot on your chest while attending to the sick? Preposterous. “There is the issue of [the vaccination] not being ‘all-virus’ specific—so you may miss the virus, the one that’s most lethal that year,” was another point brought up by McPherson. While true—recent surveys have pegged the effectiveness of the flu shot from 59 per cent up to 73 per cent—it is still the best defence available.

“[Nurses] need to be able to draw their own conclusions from the research and literature and make their own choice on that,” continued McPherson. Her comment seems to imply that nurses are not already educated on flu shots. It’s distressing to hear that those distributing vaccinations may only have as much, or possibly less, knowledge about what they are injecting into their patient. These are health care professionals; there is an expectation of higher understanding.

The nurses should have no issues with either option. Their job, first and foremost, is to provide care to the sick. By not taking a flu shot or wearing a mask, nurses are, simply put, failing to take all possible measures to fulfill their duties.