EDITORIAL: Cold, hard facts

If you got through the holiday season without getting a cold or the flu, count yourself lucky.

This is flu season and many people are ending up sick and even in hospital.

But does that mean you should arm yourself with a vaccine? The Fraser Health Authority says yes, especially after more than a dozen people landed in hospital across the region, with many still being ventilated on respirators.

The sufferers include pregnant women, some elderly people, and people with a chronic illness or who are severely overweight. It seems like a no-brainer for people to get a flu shot, even now, with the cold and flu season half over.

Getting a flu shot is relatively painless, compared to the cold, chills, fever and other symptoms of a bad flu, it’s not that expensive, and they are available at just about every corner pharmacy, and the public health office. Many people qualify for free vaccines.

So what stops people from getting them?

Well, the recent brouhaha with the BC Nurses Union might have struck a blow against the credibility of the vaccination campaign. Health care workers fought and lost a battle to force them to get mandatory vaccines and were told to submit to a needle or wear a mask. The union doesn’t believe health care workers should be forced to get a vaccination and there is dispute about the effectiveness of the flu shot.

Unlike most of us, nurses can get free vaccinations on the job site, but if the nurses aren’t 100% behind a vaccination campaign, why should anyone else be?

Both the provincial nurses union and the Canadian Federation of Nurses support vaccinations generally, just not mandatory shots for their workers, believing that education rather than discipline is better for raising vaccination rates.

That stance might appease union members wishing to assert their rights, but it’s giving the public a mixed message. If the flu shot is the right way to go, nurses and other health care workers should be setting an example for everyone.


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