November 30, 2012: Important Flu-Policy Update from Dr. Brendan Carr, Chief Medical Officer and Acting CEO
The Influenza Protection Policy comes into effect at VIHA and other BC Health Authorities December 1st.
This means that health care providers who have not received a vaccination or have not reported their vaccination will be required to wear a mask in patient care areas during flu season.
Health authorities will be taking a balanced and measured approach to implementation of the policy in this first transitional year. We will be working with our provincial and union partners, and contracted service providers over the coming months to resolve implementation issues. Health authorities will not be disciplining employees for non-compliance during this first year, but instead will be focusing on education and awareness.
The Influenza Protection Policy is a vital tool to protect our vulnerable patients, and is helping to raise vaccination rates for health care providers across VIHA. We strongly believe that those who choose to work in health care have an ethical responsibility to either get immunized or to wear a mask to prevent spreading influenza to our patients, residents and clients.
If you have not yet had a chance to be immunized, more staff immunization clinics have been scheduled next week. You can also be immunized for free at any public health clinic, at your physician’s office, or at a pharmacy. You then need to email the date and location to OH&SFlu@viha.ca, and tell your manager you have been immunized to receive a sticker for your VIHA identification.
2012/13 Flu Season - BC Health Authorities Influenza Protection Policy
This flu season, health care workers at VIHA and across the province will need to take specific measures to protect vulnerable patients and seniors from influenza.
All health care workers who come into contact with patients at health care facilities, including long-term care facilities, will be required to get the influenza vaccine, or wear a surgical or procedure mask during influenza season.
This is being implemented as part of comprehensive infection control measures developed by health authorities in collaboration with the provincial Medical Health Officer, the Health Employers Association of BC, and the Ministry of Health. Read the Staff Influenza Protection Policy (PDF).
On This Page:
View the December staff clinic schedule (.pdf)
The flu shot is available throughout the Fall and Winter:
Remember to bring your staff identification with you.
This year’s vaccine contains the three viruses the World Health Organization expects will be circulating in North America. The two A-strains are A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, and A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus. The B-strain is B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus.
Why get a flu shot?
Think about this … individuals with influenza are infectious before they feel sick. They can still transmit the virus to others. So without the flu shot, you could be passing the flu around without even knowing it! Get your shot early for protection throughout the flu season.
The BC Centre for Disease Control reminds all health care workers that the best protection from all three strains of influenza which may circulate in BC this season is immunization.
Healthcare unions encourage their members to consider the benefits of the influenza vaccine.
You can consult the following websites:
See a list of reference materials used in creating the policy.
AMMI Canada position paper: 2012 Mandatory influenza immunization of health care workers (pdf)
Ethics and Professional Responsibility
No. As part of VIHA's Influenza Protection Policy (PDF), staff who decline, or are unable to be vaccinated, will be required to wear a mask in winter. This is similar to requiring a mask in other areas of health care facilities, such as the operating theatre and in isolation rooms. No one is forced to receive vaccination. Read the staff Influenza Protection Policy FAQ's.
What is the mask requirement?
The Influenza Protection Policy (PDF), requires all health care workers to either be vaccinated each year or, for those workers unable or unwilling to receive immunization, wear a surgical mask when in patient care areas, during the designated “vaccination required period,” typically from the end November to the end of March. Read the staff Influenza Protection - Use of Masks FAQ's.
What is my obligation under my union contract?
Contracts for all health care unions include specific language around vaccination.
Yes. Immunization is recommended, for your own health and to provide your baby with immunity while breastfeeding. The BC Centre for Disease Control recommends the flu vaccine to any woman who will be in her third trimester during the influenza season from November through to April.
Agriflu® is the preferred vaccine for pregnant women. Both Agriflu® and Vaxigrip® vaccines are available at Occupational Health clinics. Flu Champions on your unit only have Vaxigrip®.
If you have questions, consult your own doctor before being immunized.
I have latex allergy – can I get the flu vaccine?
Yes, the stopper on the vaccine vials is butyl rubber which is latex-free. All products used to administer the vaccines are latex-free.
What if I have an egg allergy?
People with mild egg allergies can safely receive the influenza vaccine. People with a history of anaphylaxis to egg should ensure they receive the vaccine in a controlled setting.
Who should not get the influenza vaccine?
Speak with a public health provider if you:
- had a life-threatening reaction to a previous dose of influenza vaccine, or any component of the vaccine
- had severe oculo-respiratory syndrome after a previous flu shot
- developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome(GBS) within 8 weeks of getting any influenza vaccine
- have a serious allergy to eggs. People with mild egg allergies can be safely vaccinated with the influenza vaccine.
Instead of getting immunized, can I use a homeopathic solution such as Influenzium, which is taken by mouth for five weeks?
Homeopathic solutions are not an acceptable substitution for influenza vaccination in respect to the VIHA Influenza Protection policy.
These products may be licensed by Health Canada under the Natural Health Products division, but they do not carry an indication that they provide active immunization against influenza virus.
Certainly, people are free to take homeopathic products as a complementary treatment during the influenza season.
Reporting and Compliance
Email: OH&SFlu@viha.ca Please ensure to include your name and employee number, the date of your immunization, and who provided it. This information will be sent to your manager to be included in their immunization records.
See your manager to get your immunization sticker, which should be placed on the back of your VIHA identification card.