Volume 93, Issue 59

Friday, January 14, 2000


Bus pass to face new referendum

Enrollment stats to see increase

McMasters TAs reach settlement

New Year's prison party raises concern

Small amounts of praise for small towns

Hospitals stuffed up with vaccinations

Bass Ackwards

Hospitals stuffed up with vaccinations

By Stephanie Cesca
Gazette Staff

As a method of competing against the flu outbreak this season, hospitals throughout Ontario required their workers to be vaccinated yesterday, raising a debate over the needle's necessity and effectiveness.

Sara Galsworthy, a microbiology and immunology professor at Western, said the vaccine, which has been around for decades, can ward off the virus for several months.

The kind of flu virus with which people are infected mutates every year, she said. "The one that was out this year may have been different from the one last year. This new virus originates in Asia."

Galsworthy explained this year's flu bug can infect pigs, ducks and can even be transmitted via mosquitoes.

She added the mutation of the virus occurs in two of its proteins. The vaccine works because it contains these two proteins, enabling the body to recognize the virus. She explained this recognition would allow the body to create antibodies against the virus.

The flu virus is most contagious around the time a person becomes ill, even before they are inflicted with symptoms, Galsworthy said.

In general, she said it would be a good idea for hospital workers to be vaccinated because they are exposed to viruses so frequently.

"But it's too late – they should have had it in November," she added, a time when infections were less rampant and the body would have time to create the antibodies.

However, Rick Csiernik, a social work professor at King's College, said there is never a 100 per cent guarantee that a vaccination will work.

In fact, Csiernik said some workers do not want to be vaccinated at all. "There's a backlash in some of the labour locals about having to be vaccinated. There is a debate right now."

Both views concerning mandatory hospital vaccinations have valid points, he said. "Hospital administration is meeting with the health needs of their patients."

However, he added he could see the other side of the argument, since some individuals do not physically respond well to vaccines. "But as a social worker, I see the rights of the individual employee as being secondary."

Paul Barker, a social sciences professor at Brescia College, said the vaccination could have serious adverse affects on some people. "Inoculation can be dangerous at times." He added, however, this vaccination could also be beneficial.

"Obviously, there is a movement of preventative medicine and this is an element of preventative medicine. I think we just have to be careful that we don't go overboard with costs and making more problems."

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