Saskatchewan health-care workers will be required to choose either to get a flu shot or to wear a mask while delivering care and services to patients during flu season this fall.
Following the strong recommendation of Saskatchewan’s medical health officers and other health system leaders, health regions are proceeding with an “immunize-or-mask” policy for staff during the 2014-15 flu season. Health-care staff who are not immunized for influenza this fall will be required to wear a mask in patient or client care areas.
“Health regions are committed to protecting the health of our patients and making health-care environments as safe as possible for patients and staff alike,” said David Fan, CEO of Prairie North Health Region. “This policy is another way to prevent the spread of influenza among patients and staff in our facilities.”
Currently, only about 50 per cent of health-care staff and physicians in Saskatchewan voluntarily get an annual flu shot.
The new policy is supported by the Saskatchewan Medical Association, with its president Dalibor Slavik noting flu shots and masks are effective methods of preventing the spread of the disease.
The Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association also backs the policy.
“We support this immunization initiative and encourage all RNs and RN(NP)s to protect your patients, your family, your co-workers and yourselves by getting your seasonal flu shot or by wearing a mask,” said executive director Karen Eisler.
Saskatchewan will be the second province in Canada, after British Columbia, to introduce an immunize-or-mask policy. The policy is being finalized as discussions continue with health-care provider organizations and unions.