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That's one of the questions Parkhurst Exchange will explore in a Q&A with chief public health officer Dr David Butler-Jones (right), set to be published in the September issue.
But in the meantime Canadian Medicine offers you this sneak preview of Dr Butler-Jones's comments on the matter:
"We’ve kind of gone around that a few times and generally courts have not supported compulsory immunization for healthcare workers. It is, at the end of the day, an issue of choice. It is prevention, not treatment. That being said, I think every professional body encourages its members to be immunized. The reality is, if I am not immunized and I get flu, I kill my patients. I mean, that’s the reality. We’re the ones -- doctors and nurses -- who take it, by and large, into the nursing home, and spread it around. The fact that we are lucky to get 50% of our colleagues who take actually take the vaccine is amazing, when you think of it. I mean, it’s different if you have a contraindication or whatever, but in so many other realms if you basically give a noxious agent to a patient and kill them, that’s malpractice. And yet a totally or largely preventable disease that we carry and then share with our patients, somehow that’s okay? I don’t think it’s okay. At the end of the day, it is a matter of choice but my hope is, unless there is a reason not to, basically why would we not protect, as physicians or nurses or healthcare workers, why would we not protect not only ourselves but our patients and families besides?... The ethical position would be: why not do anything reasonable? I don't go drunk into surgery, so why not be immunized?"Doctors, nurses and patients: what do you think?
Is the refusal of so many thousands of healthcare workers to be immunized against the flu (a pattern all but certain to repeat itself this fall with the pandemic H1N1 flu) tantamount to operating under the influenza? Legal issues aside, should doctors and nurses be pushed harder by their workplaces or by their professional associations to receive the vaccine?
Photo: Public Health Agency of Canada
Posted by David Elkins and others at 12:00 AM
Labels: ethics, H1N1 flu, law, vaccines