My father is a paramedic here in Prince George. He just went to get his flu shot and was told he wasn’t eligible since he’s not considered a front-line healthcare worker. Not sure how that decision corresponds with this (from opinion250.com):
“VICTORIA – The Province is taking action to end the strike by Ambulance Service Paramedics and dispatchers.
“With the H1N1 pandemic impacting the acute care system and winter and the holiday season fast approaching, the public needs certainty that they’ll have the care they need in an emergency,” says Minister of Health Kevin Falcon. “The decision to introduce this legislation was a difficult one and certainly not one that we take lightly. But it was clear that after seven months of failed attempts to reach an agreement and with no hope for a negotiated settlement in sight, we had to act.”
So to recap: during a contract dispute, paramedics are told they must continue to work, including working historic levels of overtime (yes, that’s right– during this strike, paramedics have been required to work regular hours plus overtime). Then, even though paramedics have not ceased working, the government introduces legislation to end the job action, supposedly because they are needed to deal with H1N1. But they aren’t needed so badly that they’ll actually be given flu shots alongside other health care workers.
*EDIT* Thanks to a comment on my Facebook, I went ahead and checked northern health’s priority list. Although on October 30 it was reported that “the focus for immunization will remain those in high risk groups and health care workers” the Northern Health website just has “Persons under the age of 65 with chronic conditions,” “Pregnant women,” and “Persons who live in remote and isolated settings or communities” as being a priority.
So… either first responders are being given the shot and paramedics are not being considered first responders OR first responders are not being considered a priority for the vaccine. I’m not particularly concerned about H1N1 but I am concerned if either of these scenarios would hold true for an actual pandemic.
Alright, now that I’ve gone ahead and dug into this a little more… the information bulletin sent out by the Ministry of Health dated November 5 (today) says that as of November 2 those eligible for the shot are:
· all initial groups (Persons under the age of 65 with chronic conditions/Pregnant women/Persons – including First Nations – living in remote and isolated settings or communities).
· Children 6 months to less than 5 years of age.
· Health-care workers (including all health-care system workers involved with the pandemic response or delivery of essential health services).
· Household contacts and care providers of infants less than 6 months of age, and persons who are immunocompromised.
So either the health-care worker thing has changed since this morning or paramedics are not considered essential to pandemic response or delivery of essential health services. Which brings us back to the initial question of why they need to be legislated into accepting the contract.
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