Off to get my flu vaccine…

It’s about time.

My cancer center is finally offering the flu vaccine for its employees, and I’m off to go and get it. I’ll be sure to ask for extra thimerosal. Even though Jock Doubleday’s challenge seems to have disappeared, I’ll still do it in his honor.

This year, I’m particularly proud of my cancer center in that its leadership has made a stand by partnering with other health care institutions in the city and requiring the flu vaccine for employees who directly interact with patients. That means doctors, nurses, support staff, receptionists, pretty much everyone other than the lab rats working in the research section of the building. When we get our vaccine, we will be given a sticker to put on our employee ID. An employee can still refuse the flu vaccine, but that employee will not be given the ID sticker and, as a result, will be required to wear a mask any time he or she is in an area where patient care takes place and in patient waiting areas. It’s imperfect (personally, other than medical reasons, I see no reason why employees at a cancer center, where immunosuppressed patients are cared for, should not be required to be up on all their vaccinations, including the flu vaccine every year), but it’s a reasonable compromise between patient safety and personal freedom. I wish I could say I had something to do with this policy, but I didn’t. I did thank our cancer center director when I heard about it, though.

If I don’t return to the blog later today or sometime tomorrow, you’ll know that something horrible has happened to me as a result of the flu vaccine as a result of all that deadly mercury and killed virus. Of course, the likelihood of that is slim and none; the Insolence will resume later today or tomorrow as usual. The flu vaccine may not be as effective as we wish in some years, due to the nature of the influenza virus and the ever-shifting types of flu that circulate every year, but it is effective and it is safe. The benefits certainly outweigh the tiny risks. Even if we are too cavalier to protect ourselves and our own loved ones, we as health care professionals owe it to patients to take at least this minimal step to protect them.

It really is the least a health care professional should do during the flu season.