Sunday, December 2, 2012
A Toss of the Dice... or a Shot in the Arm
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.