A Toss of the Dice... or a Shot in the Arm

Several years ago I had a flu vaccination and became very ill.  I was unable to leave my apartment for three months and consequently I missed work. A lot.  I was very sick, and I felt generally miserable.  As hell.  Since that time, I have not risked having another flu shot.  As a result, starting tomorrow I will be required to wear a surgical mask at work.  I work for a health care facility, and the employer has mandated that anyone who is not vaccinated against the flu is required to wear a mask.  Well fine.  I'll save money on lipstick.  So there.

In all seriousness, I don't believe employers should have the authority to force employees to undergo any medical interventions they don't wish to undergo.  During the course of my day-to-day duties, I have no contact with patients and I am not in a situation where I would be infected by patients.  I work in administration.  In any case, the flu vaccine is proven to be only 60% effective, and it does have side effects, one of which is death.  Yes, I would say death is a pretty good deterrent to the flu, and considering the bad reaction I had to my last flu shot, that is not a chance I wish to take.  And that is my right.

On Friday evening we received a directive from our union, as follows: On the eve of the implementation of a new province-wide health care worker influenza control policy, BCGEU in conjunction with Health Sciences Association and HEU has negotiated an agreement with the Ministry of Health that clarifies the implementation and enforcement provisions of the policy. The unions and the ministry have agreed that in the first year (2012/2013), the enforcement components of the policy will be in abeyance and staff will not be disciplined. In the first year of policy implementation the ministry and the unions have also agreed they will focus on educational efforts and onsite influenza clinics to promote healthy workplaces. “The agreement reached today takes away the threat of discipline, and reverts to the practice of educating members about the value of vaccination,” said BCGEU President Darryl Walker.

BCGEU continues to encourage members to be vaccinated and to take advantage of on-site flu vaccine clinics and take other precautionary measures to protect vulnerable patients. The unions also recognize that individual health care workers have a right to make their own personal health decisions. If they choose not to be vaccinated for any number of factors – including experiences with bad side effects to vaccines, and fundamental, philosophical, or religious objections to vaccination – that is their right. During a flu outbreak, existing employer policies will continue. This includes relocating staff, wearing protective masks, or staying at home. The ministry and the unions have agreed to meet to discuss future policies.

So, I will wear the mask until told otherwise. If you're walking along Broadway in the hospital district, and you see a woman wearing a yellow rain slicker and a surgical mask, do stop and say hello. It's probably me.

UPDATE:  The employer's mandate has been overruled by the Union, and people who have opted out of being vaccinated are not required to wear masks unless there is a flu outbreak.

0 Response to "A Toss of the Dice... or a Shot in the Arm"

Post a Comment