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Implications of mandatory flu vaccinations for health-care workers

Date:
May 26, 2014
Source:
Canadian Medical Association Journal
Summary:
Vaccination rates among health care workers are less than 50%, well below the level necessary for herd immunity. Employers planning to implement mandatory influenza vaccination policies for health-care workers need to understand the implications, according to experts. In Canada, condition-of-service policies must comply with employment law, provincial human rights codes and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Condition-of-service policies that apply to unionized employees must be consistent with collective labour agreements, and vaccination policies should allow exemptions for religious beliefs and practices.

Employers planning to implement mandatory influenza vaccination policies for health care workers need to understand the implications, according to an analysis published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

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Vaccination rates among health care workers are less than 50%, well below the level necessary for herd immunity. Evidence indicates that vaccination of health care workers can benefit patient health, leading to a move by many to consider mandatory influenza vaccination as a condition of employment or to require employees to wear a mask during influenza season. Many health care workers favour condition-of-service influenza vaccination policies.

However, in Canada, condition-of-service policies must comply with employment law, provincial human rights codes and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Condition-of-service policies that apply to unionized employees must be consistent with collective labour agreements, and vaccination policies should allow exemptions for religious beliefs and practices.

"With respect to the rights to liberty and security, vaccinate-or-mask policies have been found not to violate liberty or security rights, because the vaccine is not mandatory and masks are insufficiently invasive to violate these rights," states Dr. Allison McGeer, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, with coauthors.

Most legal cases around vaccination policies have weighed in favour of patient safety.

"Vaccinate-or-mask policies for influenza vaccination in health care organizations result in substantial increases in the vaccination rates among health care workers, are supported by most health care workers and, based on decisions to date, are likely to be found in compliance with Canadian law. …Physicians and employers should work together to find the best means to improve vaccination rates and protect both patients and providers from influenza," conclude the authors.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Canadian Medical Association Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Vanessa Gruben, Reed A. Siemieniuk, and Allison Mcgeer. Health care workers, mandatory influenza vaccination policies and the law. CMAJ, May 2014 DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.140035

Cite This Page:

Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Implications of mandatory flu vaccinations for health-care workers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140526130651.htm>.
Canadian Medical Association Journal. (2014, May 26). Implications of mandatory flu vaccinations for health-care workers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140526130651.htm
Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Implications of mandatory flu vaccinations for health-care workers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140526130651.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

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