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Nov 12, 2012

Mandatory flu shots for Sask health-care workers under review

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Via: Leaderpost
 A push is on for health-care workers to get mandatory flu shots in a number of North American jurisdictions, but Saskatchewan is adopting a wait-and-see attitude. An editorial published earlier this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal calls for all healthcare workers to get an annual flu shot. Dr. Ken Flegel, senior associate editor, notes that each season 20 per cent of healthcare workers get influenza and some may pass on the flu virus up to a day before symptoms begin, which can put patients at risk.
 "The time has come for health care institutions to demand that all health-care workers be vaccinated," Flegel wrote in the editorial. "Our patients' lives depend on this change." There is also a growing movement in the United States for health-care workers to be immunized and earlier this year, health authorities in British Columbia announced that every health-care provider must get the flu vaccination or wear surgical masks once influenza starts making the rounds. Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, said it's positive medical authorities are recommending the vaccine for themselves and for patients. However, he stopped short of saying that Saskatchewan would follow B.C.'s lead.

 "I think we need to continue to work on the strong message that getting the annual flu shot is an important part of providing care in a safe manner," he said. "We will continue to look at how successful B.C. is. Certainly in the U.S., many health systems have high immunization rates." Shahab pointed to the yearly influenza recommendations made by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which includes infection disease and public health experts. "They always say that for healthcare workers, it's a duty of care to get vaccinated," Shahab said. "Just like health-care workers should wash their hands and do everything to keep themselves and the people they care for safe, immunization is one of those tools."
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