Flu vaccination rates "dangerously low" among Eastern Ontario health-care workers

    They know it's effective and easily accessible. They advise their
    patients to do it. So why don't all doctors, nurses and other health-
    care professionals get vaccinated against influenza?

    OTTAWA, Oct. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Health-system leaders in Eastern Ontario
are worried about an apparent epidemic of indifference among health-care
professionals toward getting a flu shot, an easy and effective way to help
them keep their patients, their families-and themselves-healthier.
    Despite significant evidence of its effectiveness, doctors and nurses
often do not get vaccinated against influenza. In Ottawa-Carleton, for
example, although 80 percent of the staff at long-term care facilities gets
the flu shot, the rate drops to only 56 percent at acute-care facilities such
as hospitals.
    Dr. Robert Cushman, CEO for the Champlain Local Health Integration
Network, says these levels are dangerously low and it's time for hospital
professionals to roll up their sleeves.
    "For a long time, we've focused our attention on vaccinating those at
high risk of complications from influenza, such as the elderly and people with
a weakened immune system," says Dr. Cushman. "But we also need to focus on
reducing the spread of infection from high-risk areas, such as hospitals.
Vaccinating the health-care professionals who work there is one of the most
effective ways we can do that."
    Dr. Virginia Roth is the Medical Coordinator for the Champlain Infection
Control Network. "We know the vaccine is 70 to 90 percent effective in
preventing infection in healthy children and adults," she says. "That means a
greatly reduced risk of spreading the infection, and not only in the hospital
setting. It also means we'll be less likely to bring the infection home to our
families or to people outside the hospital."
    Often, infection is spread when no symptoms are present or symptoms are
so mild they are not immediately recognized as being caused by influenza, so
vaccination remains a key line of defense.
    And, says Dr. Cushman, the public can help. "First, reduce the risk of
infection in your own home by getting vaccinated. Protect yourself and protect
your family. And make a point of telling your doctor, or the nurse who's
taking care of the patient you're visiting, to get their flu shot.
    "Whether or not you come into contact with the health-care system,
getting vaccinated is a very easy and effective way to ensure we are all a lot
healthier this flu season."

    Created and funded by the Government of Ontario, Regional Infection
Control Networks work to improve collaboration and the integration of
practices aimed at preventing and controlling infectious diseases in the
province. The Champlain Infection Control Network is responsible for the
Eastern Ontario region.

For further information:

For further information: Colette Ouellet, Network Coordinator, Champlain
Infection Control Network, (613) 761-4833, couellet@cicn-rcic.on.ca; Dr.
Virginia Roth, FRCPS, Medical Coordinator, Champlain Infection Control
Network, (613) 737-8606, vroth@ottawahospital.on.ca

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