On August 23, 2012, the B.C. Government introduced new influenza measures designed to protect patients and seniors from being exposed to influenza. ARNBC has been discussing the importance of nurses getting flu shots for quite some time, and was pleased to publish a blogpost on the topic written by Board Member Leanna Loy (October 24, 2011).
In light of the changes initiated by government, we are pleased to re-post “Flu Shots – The Healthy Choice” to provide some context around the current discussion. We encourage all nurses to reflect on this important issue and share your thoughts about the new policy in the comments section below.
The provincial news release and backgrounder can be found on the Ministry of Health website (Click to View)
ARNBC’s Statement on B.C.’s new Influenza Protection Policy (Click to View)
By Leanna Loy (Originally posted on October 24, 2011)
Recent statistics from BC’s Provincial Health Officer tell us that less than half of the health workers in this province got their flu shot last year. Read the CBC News article here.
This should be of concern to all of us. We know that many nurses have thoughtfully considered the reasons why they do or do not want to receive a flu shot. Still, it’s important to remember that the personal choices nurses make about flu shots also has the potential to significantly affect the health and lives of those we care for.
The BCNU encourages all of its members to get a flu shot in order to reduce their risk of developing serious illness (Click to View). The College of Registered Nurses of BC, whose primary mandate is to ensure public safety, also recommends nurses receive a yearly flu shot and has published the Practice Standard Communicable Diseases: Preventing Nurse-to-Client Transmission (Click to View).
Evidence tells us that flu shot rates are like every other immunization – when higher proportions of the population are immunized it has a protective effect on everyone else, immunized or not. Therefore, each of us is directly impacted by the decisions the people around us make regarding this personal choice. We hope that nurses will weigh all of the options as they make important decisions around receiving a flu shot considering both public health issues and personal preference. As guardians of privileged, professional knowledge, we hope all nurses will recognize the importance of making personal choices that are consistent with the wider message we want the public to understand.
While we all acknowledge occasional individual exceptions, these should not be permitted to confuse the wider public message of health for all, and all for health. All three nursing bodies in BC agree that the best course is evidence-based encouragement for optimal immunization rates across all of our province’s diverse communities and contexts.
Let’s work together to role model the kind of social accountability for which our profession stands. ARNBC calls on BC nurses to be proud champions for flu shots and to do everything they can to ensure immunization rates are as high as possible. We can do this by encouraging healthcare workers and patients alike to receive a flu shot, by interpreting evidence if need be, and by supporting the systems that make it easier for people to get their shots.
For further information on flu shots, see www.gov.bc.ca/FluBC. Flu shot access is easier than ever this year. Click on the clinic locations to access a complete list of settings and times. Did you know that flu shots are now readily available in your local pharmacies and even supermarkets?
ABOUT LEANNA LOY
Leanna Loy is a Community Health Nurse, Adult & Older Adult Services, with the South Community Health Centre in Vancouver.