Flu shots do not make you invincible to disease

Dear editor,

I have been a health-care worker for 27 years and worked in a long-term care facility for the past 22 years.

Dear editor,

In response to an article entitled “Help hospital, get flu shot” by Tom Fletcher, I have been a health-care worker for 27 years and worked in a long-term care facility for the past 22 years.

During that time I have experienced many flu seasons and outbreaks with various degrees of illness and effects to both residents and co-workers.

There are a couple of seemingly biased statements by Tom Fletcher, in the article that I object to.

It states that, “Staff, doctors, outside contractors and visitors will have to put patients first.”

Although many health-care workers refuse to get flu vaccines for various valid reasons, I believe that this has no bearing on the fact that patients’ health care and well-being is of utmost importance.

The article states 40 per cent of long-term care workers refuse immunization and that, “Their objections make no sense.”

Aside from self-serving “rights” argument, and the complaint that the flu vaccine isn’t effective enough,” I object to the connotation that “human rights” are self-serving in this situation.

The human rights issue is a very important one; it is our human rights that protect individual choice in our society. We do have the right to refuse the vaccine for personal reasons and should not feel attacked or discriminated against.

I have seen many co-workers who have been immunized get the flu, while I — a non-immunized staff member — have continued to work without getting the influenza over the years.

I do not object to others receiving the vaccine. I have experienced that the flu affects many indiscriminately regardless of immunization or not.

I had the opportunity to talk to provincial medical health officer Dr. Perry Kendall. In our conversation, I asked him, “If a strain of influenza breaks out in our workplace, one that staff members have not been immunized against, would immunized workers be required to wear a mask?”

The answer that he gave me was not the answer I wanted to hear and it seemed vague, coming from a government official that is so adamant about non-immunized workers wearing masks for four months.

Dr. Kendall responded, “They may or may not be required to wear a mask during an outbreak.”

I believe that the provincial health department should already have a policy in place concerning this important question. If an outbreak of a different strain was to come along it would make sense to me that without hesitation all should be required to wear a mask; especially now since the provincial health officer has made this recent policy.

Rita Coulter,

Comox Valley