Nurses union takes aim at Cornwall hospital over flu shots

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Jessica-Rose Dybka gets her shot in this TC Media file photo.

CORNWALL, Ontario - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) has launched a new ad campaign in Cornwall that calls for an end to the stigmatization of nurses who choose not to have a flu vaccine.

And the union is accusing the Cornwall Community Hospital of shaming nurses into getting the shot.

The ONA is also calling for the provincial government to work collaboratively to develop a provincewide, comprehensive and truly effective policy to fight the spread of influenza.

"As registered nurses, we know that science shows that the effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies between just 40 and 60 per cent," said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. "Yet a handful of Ontario hospitals - including Cornwall Community Hospital - are trying to coerce nurses into having a flu vaccine or be publicly stigmatized if they choose not to. We dedicate our lives to caring for our patients. Hospitals such as Cornwall Community Hospital, which are coercing our nurses, are doing a grave disservice to the community."

Cornwall Community Hospital is one of just a handful of health agencies using these practices. ONA represents more than 500 Ontario health agencies in the province.

Hospital officials were not immediately available for comment.

Ads about the issue are circulating and other communities using similar pressure tactics. Noting that it takes "more than a shot in the arm" to fight the flu, the ad notes that publicly shaming nurses won't keep patients safe from the flu and may provide a false sense of security for the community.

ONA believes that if hospitals are serious about preventing influenza from spreading, they must use evidence-based infection-control measures, effective isolation policies and screening procedures, adequate "surge capacity" protocols to ensure a safe number of nurses are working, provide appropriate personal protective equipment when needed, increase cleaning efforts, eliminate overcrowding, practice hand hygiene and include immunization options as part of an overall plan.

"As registered nurses, we are there on the front lines to ensure our patients receive the high-quality care they need," said Haslam-Stroud, "These pressure tactics show a total lack of respect for the knowledge and professionalism of Cornwall Community Hospital nurses. ONA is calling on the government to demand that these hospitals stop the coercion and stigmatization. We call on the government to work with nurses and other experts on a comprehensive, province-wide approach to infection control that protects patients and respects nurses, because our patients deserve no less."

More to come.

Organizations: Cornwall Community Hospital, ONA, Ontario Nurses

Geographic location: Ontario, CORNWALL

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Recent comments

  • Ray hurt unwise
    January 09, 2014 - 18:49

    I totally agreed with the nurses union,in Sault Ste. Marie hospital nurses are required to wear a mask if not immunized,in fact it sound more like segregation against our front line workers and on the token visitors don't have to wear masks, now tell me the reasoning behind all of this because I cannot

  • Mary
    December 16, 2013 - 13:28

    I'm happy to see that a union is standing behind it's members to protect them from bullies like the Cornwall Community Hospital who are violating the nurses rights to make an informed decision about their health. Most people I know who get the flu shot end up getting sick a day or two afterwards. My husband rarely gets sick and about 7 years ago he believed the hype of the flu shot and got it. He was as sick as a dog for 3 weeks right after he got it. The flu shot is a complete hoax and for a company to try to force its employees to have to have a shot that is barely effective in preventing the flu is criminal. The union should take them to court.

  • Jay
    December 12, 2013 - 10:47

    Rogers The issue is many can't handle the flu when you work in health care you should have to take measures does that mean you need to get a shot no but maybe it means wearing a mask.

  • Regan Dolan
    December 12, 2013 - 00:14

    For once a union that is helping out. Yes utterly insulting. You trust healthcare workers (HCW) to deliver your babies, care for your dying and keep your brain alive during surgery - why suddenly, when the flu vaccine is involved are healthcare workers(HCW) filthy reprobates who want you, and your vulnerable beloved dead? HCW's are humans, we also have children, we have compromised family members - do you think we would not want to protect them from influenza? Truth is, HCW's have discriminating tastes as to what they put into their bodies and are not dazzled by public relations. The fact that 50% of us, who are educated professionals, elect not to vaccinate should give your pause regarding the vaccine, not make you angry. We see how poorly late and subacute adverse reactions are tracked. We see a non transparent system which suppresses and distorts credible scientific research while it promotes poor quality industry funded drivel. We are concerned by adjuvant use and vaccine associated respiratory syndromes. We will gladly roll up our sleeves when the government provides us with the independent, double blind placebo controlled trial that we deserve. The simplistic retort that we should accept the jab no matter how poorly it (allegedly) performs is insulting - thank God the polio vaccine was not so gullibley accepted.