In 2012, BC became the first province in Canada to implement a province-wide condition-of-service influenza prevention policy.
BC’s Influenza Prevention Policy requires all healthcare workers to either be vaccinated against influenza or wear a mask in patient care areas throughout the influenza season. The policy also applies to visitors, volunteers and students who attend a patient care area.
Every year in BC, outbreaks of influenza occur in healthcare settings, including acute and long term care facilities. In healthcare settings, vulnerable patient and resident populations can experience influenza infections that lead to severe illnesses and deaths. Healthcare workers have been implicated as a source of influenza infections in healthcare settings. Vaccination of healthcare workers reduces their risk of influenza infection, and reduces the risk of spreading it to patients, other healthcare workers or their families. The most effective strategy for preventing influenza is annual vaccination.
The BC Influenza Prevention Policy has three goals:
- To increase influenza immunization rates in healthcare workers employed in BC health authorities
- To prevent transmission of influenza from healthcare workers to patients/residents/clients and to other healthcare workers in healthcare facilities in BC
- To reduce influenza-related absenteeism in healthcare workers employed by health authorities in BC
In the decade prior to the policy, influenza immunization rates among healthcare workers ranged from 40-46% in acute care facilities, and 56-68% in long-term care facilities, both well below the former target of 80%. Following introduction of the policy, the immunization rate rose in 2013/14 to an average of 75% for healthcare workers in acute care (i.e., hospitals), and 79% for healthcare workers in long term care facilities.
For more information about this policy, please refer to the following PHSA resource: