EDMONTON, Oct. 6, 2014 /CNW/ - The College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) has become the first North American regulator to issue a specific position statement regarding mandatory influenza immunization of its members. At its September 2014 meeting, CARNA's Provincial Council passed a motion to support employer policies of mandatory choice of influenza vaccination or wearing protective clothing for anyone working in health care.
"The available evidence clearly indicates that influenza immunization is a safe and important part of preventing influenza and its complications," says CARNA President Shannon Spenceley. "Influenza is a serious illness that can have a devastating impact on vulnerable populations such as infants, older adults and people with chronic illness. Registered nurses work with vulnerable populations throughout the health system and have a professional obligation to provide the highest possible standard of care which includes either having annual influenza vaccinations or wearing protective clothing."
Evidence shows that the transmission of influenza between infected health care workers and their patients results in significant morbidity and mortality. CARNA's position is congruent with the Canadian Nurses Association position statement on influenza immunization for registered nurses which states that policies that place immunization as a condition of service should be introduced if health-care worker influenza immunization coverage levels are not protective of patients, and reasonable efforts have been undertaken with education and enhancing accessibility to immunization.
Alberta Health Services, the largest employer of health-care workers in Alberta, reported that the 2013-2014 influenza season immunization rate for staff was 54% (staff reporting as immunized), the same rate reported by Covenant Health. These rates were achieved only after significant efforts to educate staff and promote voluntary influenza immunization.
"Mandatory choice has been shown to be the most effective way to improve vaccination rates and protect patients," says CARNA CEO Mary-Anne Robinson. "Even though there are significant differences of opinion about the single best approach to immunizations, there is general agreement among CARNA members that mandated influenza immunization, particularly when combined with effective infection control measures such as hand-washing, improves patient safety."
CARNA is supporting employer policies on allowing health-care workers to choose which form of protection (immunization or protective clothing) is right for them. The college itself is not enforcing mandatory influenza immunization.
CARNA is the professional and regulatory body for Alberta's more than 35,000 registered nurses, including nurses in direct care, education, research and administration as well as nurse practitioners. Its mandate is to protect the public by ensuring that Albertans receive effective, safe and ethical care by registered nurses.
Image with caption: "College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CNW Group/College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20141006_C1354_PHOTO_EN_6382.jpg
SOURCE: College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta
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