The College reviewed information from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) regarding a strategy to minimize influenza exposure to hospital/nursing home patients. Influenza on average:
- annually results in 20,000 hospitalizations and 4,000 deaths nationally
- annually affects 10–20% of the population and 20–30% of children
- affects populations disproportionately, particularly the elderly, very young, and immune-compromised
The BCCDC notes that immunization paradoxically protects the healthy more than those most at risk.
Given that hospitalized patients carry a higher mortality/morbidity from influenza, it is incumbent on all physicians and health-care workers to lessen influenza exposure risk to patients. While wearing protective equipment during the influenza season may accomplish this, a more pragmatic approach is for physicians and health-care workers to be immunized.
The College supports the BC Enhanced Influenza Control Policy and reminds physicians that they have an ethical responsibility to minimize the risk of influenza exposure to patients.