Friday, September 11, 2015

Mandatory flu shots for healthcare workers: Good or bad idea?

Are mandatory flu shots for nurses and other health-care workers a good or bad idea? The answer depends on the newspaper article and the reporter one consults. If you read The London Free Press you can be forgiven for believing mandatory vaccination is a critical weapon in the fight against the deadly flu virus. But do a Google search and you may find the answer is not so clear cut.

For instance, a report in the Cochrane Library states there is no evidence that vaccinating health-care workers prevents flu or its complications ( such as death due to lower respiratory tract infection) in individuals aged 60 or over. There is no evidence of a pressing need to institute compulsory vaccination of health-care workers caring for those 60 and over.

The Globe and Mail reports Dr. Michael Gardam, director of infection prevention and control at the University Health Network in Toronto, thinks the growing trend toward mandating flu shots to health-care workers is a bad idea.

According to the Globe article:

It turns out that the evidence in favour of mandatory vaccination policies is far from conclusive.

Just for the record, I personally like the flu shot. I get mine annually and as early as possible. I have heart and lung problems. I don't feel like sitting on the fence waiting for the definitive answer. If the shot doesn't help me, I am not worried that it may hurt me. In all the years that I have had the shot, I have never had a bad reaction and, it may be coincidence, but I have not had a serious bout of flu either.

This post is not an attack on the flu shot. I simply believe newspapers should strive to be more balanced.