To save lives, prevent thousands of needless deaths stop provincial
policies that cause medical errors, bed sores and superbug infections
TORONTO, Nov. 2, 2012 /CNW/ - Heavy-handed promotion that gives the
impression that anyone who is immunized will be protected from flu is
misleading based on a key analysis of flu studies published in the
respected medical journal The Lancet. Researchers behind the study
found the flu vaccine is only about 59 per cent effective.
"To target health care workers and take away their right to choose by
making the flu shot mandatory, is misdirected in the face of recent
evidence that 41 per cent of people who get a flu vaccine receive no
protection against the flu," says Michael Hurley the president of the
Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
In addition, flu is not the major cause of patient and resident death.
Research estimates that every year thousands more Ontarians die from
medical errors, bed sores and hospital-acquired infections than they do
from the flu. Studies also show that more than half these deaths are
preventable and associated with the hospital (facility) environment
including overcrowding and understaffing.
Approximately 10.5 per cent of Ontario hospital admissions or about
122,598 patients resulted in a hospital-acquired infection (HAI), which
does not include the flu. A recent Canadian study found that the
chances of a hospital patient getting a life-threatening superbug,
increases by 10 per cent mainly because they share a bathroom.
OCHU has consistently advocated for making hospital environments safer
by ending provincial policies like high bed occupancy, understaffing
and reduced cleaning, all of which are linked to the rise in superbug
infections and medical errors. "Doing this will save far more lives and
improve safety for hospital patients and nursing home residents than
taking away the right of health care staff to choose what goes into
their bodies by forcing them to have a flu shot as a condition of
employment," says Hurley.
This week the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
argued against a mandatory flu shot for health care workers on the
grounds that a "reliance on a mandatory influenza vaccination policy
may provide health care workers, health care facility management and
patients with an unwarranted sense of security and result in poor
adherence to other infection control practices that prevent all types
of infections, not just influenza... Furthermore, the current influenza
vaccine is no magic bullet. The current state of influenza vaccine
technology requires annual reformulation and revaccination and the
efficacy is quite variable."
Hospital patient and nursing home resident safety is important to the
health care staff represented by OCHU. Coupled with the doubtful
efficacy of the flu vaccine, some staff have adverse reactions and get
ill after the flu shot. "Understaffing at hospitals is rampant and
staff who take sick days are often harassed," says Hurley. Also half
the hospital work force is part-time. "They have no sick days to take
should they react to the vaccine."
OCHU is the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees
(CUPE) which represents over 70,000 Ontario health care workers,
including registered practical nurses, personal support workers and
administrative and custodial staff.
SOURCE: Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)
For further information:
Michael Hurley, President Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) 416-884-0770
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications 416-559-9300