Now that flu season is officially over for the 2013/14 flu season, I’d like to write a few observations of what I experienced.
This year Health Canada through its various agencies implemented an immunize-for-the-flu-or-wear-a-mask policy with health care workers country wide. The reason given was to protect patients and clients with compromised immune systems. Non-immunized care workers were labelled “carriers”. My observations were made from seeing workers’ reactions in BC.
The debate for and against the mandatory flu shot was heated, with both sides vehemently owning their beliefs. Proponents of the flu vaccine largely tended to be people in union or management positions who had the most to lose from not following the Health Canada directive. The majority of workers passively agreed to take the shot for fear of reprimand or loss of work. A few staunch people chose not to be vaccinated with the flu shot and wear the mask. It should be noted here that the “rules” surrounding the wearing of the mask were inconsistent from situation to situation as passed down by management. As an example, workers at day facilities with clients or parents from private homes did not need to wear a mask at the day facility but the same worker had to don the mask as soon as a client from a group home entered the building. At a local hospital, care givers were some days required to wear masks and not other days. I never saw a doctor wearing a mask during flu season.
The workers who chose not to be vaccinated did so out of conviction from having done their own Due Diligence on the matter or from personal beliefs based on their own and others’ experiences with the flu shot. All of them felt that it was a violation of human rights to be forced to make a decision in the matter and bear the consequences either way. These people felt segregated, alone and bullied by immunized peers and co-workers who made them feel they were wearing a mask because perhaps they themselves felt they were forced to take the shot against their will or because they could not wear a mask all day. These people also could have believed that the shot was the right choice for workers caring for people with compromised immune systems as told to them by Health Canadavia management. The stress and anxiety caused by wearing the mask, let alone the lack of proper verbal communication from its use has caused some workers to feel undervalued.
By the end of the flu season, a significant percentage of workers who took the flu shot in 2013 stated that they would not take the shot for the 2014/15 season. They said that within ten days they contracted influenza worse than they had ever had in their lives prior to the shot. They were told by management that this was a coincidence or that they already had the virus.
To me, the entire concept of wearing a mask in lieu of immunization is ludicrous and discriminatory. First, viruses are far smaller than even the smallest holes in masks commonly worn for the purpose. Secondly, who in their right mind would argue that a non-immunized healthy person with good personal hygiene is more of a carrier of disease than an immunized one? Everyone touches doorknobs, light switches and toilet seats where the majority of viruses are passed on by contact. If masks are to be worn, why doesn’t everyone have to wear a mask? The concept is illogical. Spock would cringe.We are all carriers and a mask does nothing to prevent us from carrying viruses from place to place.
The flu shot is imperfect science based on conjecture.
Here is a good video which has excellent information about the flu shot.
Here are many articles and videos on vaccines in general
In conclusion, I have now come to believe that Health Canada insists that health care workers wear a mask not so much to protect them selves or anyone else, but mainly to identify non-compliance.