Contrary to the uninformed anti-union rant of Gordy Robson [Florence lost her way, Jan. 29 Just Saying, TIMES], nurses are always concerned about the health and well-being of our patients. We work to ensure patients receive the best quality of care with the resources that are available.
He should be comforted to know that his mother’s former union continually pushes to improve those resources, such as increasing staffing for safe patient care, which we achieved in the nurses’ latest collective agreement.
Nurses consistently push for the highest standards of cleanliness in health-care facilities, and advocate a comprehensive approach to infection control.
Unfortunately, all the tools required to combat threats, such as the norovirus that has plagued hospitals and long-term-care facilities this year, aren’t always available, like rigorous housekeeping and hand-washing stations for visitors as well as staff.
We’ve also worked hard to convince health authorities to reduce overcrowding and overcapacity and stop the practice of treating patients in hallways, which increases the challenges of infection control.
The flu shot is just one part of the toolbox for preventing the spread of illness. Robson should look at the facts before he attempts to malign nurses about it.
While our union has always encouraged nurses to get the flu shot, the scientific evidence does not support health authorities in their attempt to use punitive measures to coerce health care workers into taking the shot.
As the Globe and Mail pointed out this week, “nearly 100 percent of children are immune to measles, mumps and rubella after receiving two doses of the vaccine. But with the flu shot it’s a much different story.”
The Globe quotes Danute Skowronski from the BC Centre for Disease Control. “I think we have a duty to work towards getting a much better vaccine, and in the meantime I think people are correct to question and ask why isn’t this vaccine performing as well.”
Robson should also check the views of the internationally recognized Cochrane Collaboration before he spews his anti-union rhetoric at nurses.
“There is no credible evidence that vaccination of healthy people under the age of 60, who are health-care workers caring for the elderly, affects influenza complications in those cared for.” [From: Efficacy and Effectiveness of Influenza Vaccines in Elderly People: a Systematic Review, Jefferson T, Rivetti D, Rivetti A, Rudin M, Di Pietrantonj C, Demicheli V. (2006)]
Last fall the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota wrote that policies aimed at expanding vaccination rates by mandating it for health-care workers are being made on the basis of expert opinion and with good intentions, but without compelling and scientifically sound research to support them.
Debra McPherson, President, BC Nurses’ Union