Union Files Grievance as Flu Campaign Kicks Off in Cowichan
B.C.’s flu shot campaign starts in earnest this week and for the first time the provincial government is insisting health care workers get vaccinated.
Those who refuse will be required to wear masks at work.
A medical health officer for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, Dr. Dee Hoyano, said the new policy is based on a bad track record of staff getting immunized.
“Our rate of influenza vaccination in health care workers has not been the greatest and there have been efforts in a variety of ways to try and encourage health-care workers to be immunized every year.”
Just as the province-wide campaign kicks off, the Health Sciences Association of B.C. announced it is filing a grievance with the province and calling for the government to withdraw the policy mandating health care workers get the shot.
The HSA represents 16,000 health care and social services the province, which includes 125 workers at Cowichan District Hospital.
The HSA’s executive director of legal services and labour relations, Jeanne Meyers, said the policy contravenes the union’s collective agreement and violates members’ privacy rights.
VIHA has insisted there are no punitive measures for not getting the vaccination but those staff members are required to wear masks while at work.
Hoyano said it is difficult to estimate how many people die from flu each year because often there are other health complications involved. This year’s vaccination protects against three strains of influenza, including H1N1, otherwise known as the bird flu that was deemed a pandemic in 2009 by the World Health Organization.