Calgary

Calgary doctor urges mandatory flu shots for health care workers

A Calgary doctor says it's time to make flu shots mandatory for health care workers. But the Alberta nurses union disagrees.

Alberta nurses union says no to mandatory immunization

Mandatory flu shot?

8 years ago
Duration 2:25
A Calgary doctor says flu shots should be mandatory for health care workers.

A Calgary doctors says it's time to make flu shots mandatory for health care workers.

Dr. William Ghali is scientific director of the O'Brien Institute for Public Health at the University of Calgary.

He says only about 55 per cent of health care workers in Alberta received a flu shot last year.

In British Columbia, where a mandatory system has been in place since 2012, the vaccination rate for health care workers is 20 percentage points higher.

Dr. Ghali says Alberta should follow B.C.'s lead. 

"The flu shot is the best defence," he said, "it's not a perfect defence against getting the flu (but) it certainly has some effectiveness in reducing the incidence of the flu."

But the United Nurses of Alberta is not in favour of mandatory vaccines.

Karen Craik of the UNA says there are other ways to approach the problem, including the use of protective equipment like masks and gowns and better sick leave policies.

Craik says with so many strains of flu, there is no guarantee this year's vaccine will be effective.

In a written statement, Alberta Health Services said it only encourages health care workers to get the vaccine. However, AHS says it is reviewing a number of options to increase staff immunization levels.

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story stated the UNA spokesperson was Heather Craik. That was incorrect. The UNA spokesperson is Karen Craik.
    Nov 01, 2014 8:36 AM MT

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