Photo: Paul Chiasson, The canadian Press
Although marginal, pockets of resistance exist among the health care workers of Quebec.
Health care workers are refusing to submit to screening tests COVID-19 ; a marginal movement that suggests the existence of pockets of resistance to a possible vaccination campaign against the coronavirus within the health network.
The ministry of Health and social Services (DHSS) did not respond to our request to know how many workers of the health network refused to take the test. Of trade union organisations we have, however, confirmed that a few cases have occurred in the last few weeks.
The blogger Xavier Camus revealed last week the case of a licensed practical nurse who works in a hospital and who refuses to be tested. Its page on Facebook, she mentions in particular that” a quarantine of 14 days is safer than a test of COVID-19 negative, which can be [sic] wrong “. This nurse auxiliary relays also on his page of videos questioning the well-founded
of the containment, and echoing the conspiracy theories.
Relying on its code of conduct, the lawyer Guy Bertrand has not wanted to confirm if it is this licensed practical nurse or other health care workers who sought to exercise a right of refusal. Me Bertrand filed on June 8, in the superior Court of an appeal in a judicial review aimed at forcing the quebec government to account on its management — considered exaggerated — of the pandemic. “It is in the same mind [that the workers refuse to take the test]. A good part of the population — probably a small majority — is against everything that has been imposed by the State [during a pandemic] “, he explains in an interview.
The government would have the necessary levers to force health care workers to be tested, writes to Me Bertrand. Currently, the DHSS, saying that the screening is carried out on a voluntary basis, even for employees with symptoms compatible with the COVID-19. Refusal cases are handled on a case-by-case basis by institutions.
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Some of the CISSS and CIUSSS we have shown that the screening is mandatory in certain circumstances. The CISSS de la Montérégie-East, during an outbreak of COVID-19 in a unit, or when an employee is symptomatic, the screening test loses its character as optional.
The CIUSSS of the North-of-the-Island-of-Montreal, a worker is uncooperative will be sent home without pay if a medical screening is judged to be required, since ” we must take all measures to ensure the safety and security of our residents “. At the CHUM, as well as in five CISSS and CIUSSS who have agreed to answer our questions, there has been no refusal to be tested is of the ” very rare refusal “. Several CISSS and CIUSSS, as the MUHC, have not responded to our questions.
Both the Ordre des infirmières and infirmiers du Québec (OIIQ) that the Ordre des infirmières and infirmiers auxiliaires du Québec (OIIAQ) say they encourage their members to be tested ; the OIIQ indicating that he is” a success factor not to be undervalued in the fight against the spread of the [COVID-19] “.
Recall that several workers and asymptomatic carriers are believed to have spread the COVID-19, particularly in residences for seniors, during the first weeks of the pandemic.
And for the vaccination ?
If the refusal to take the test raises some concerns, the question of vaccination raised even more. These workers, or others, could resist a vaccination campaign aimed primarily at front-line workers ?
Difficult to predict, said Jeff Begley, president of the Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSS-CSN). “I hope [they will be vaccinated]. But it is a new terrain… “A recommendation of the FSSS to be vaccinated will depend on the effectiveness of the vaccine against the COVID-19 and its side effects,” he explains.
Linda Lapointe, vice-president of the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé (FIQ), considers all the same that the great majority of the workers will be vaccinated. It agrees, however, that there is a reluctance among health workers to be vaccinated against the seasonal flu. “This is not always the same strains which are planned [for the flu] than those who are active, tempers-t-it. But for the COVID-19, I don’t think it will be hard to convince them to get vaccinated. “
In 2018, the rate of vaccination against influenza in health care workers was 40.8 %, according to data collected by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ). For the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-2010, vaccination coverage among health care workers aged 18 to 59 years of age reached 85.3 per cent, according to the INSPQ.
Currently, no vaccination is mandatory in Quebec. But “a health care facility may require as a condition of employment or for access to some positions that any person to receive vaccine or provide proof of vaccination, if the vaccines are prophylaxis measures or standards determined by the director of public health,” said Robert Maranda, spokesman for the DHSS.
Article 123 of the Law on public health provides that during the health emergency, the federal government can ” order the compulsory vaccination of the entire population or a certain part of it against smallpox or other contagious disease a serious threat to the health of the population “.
An event that, if it were to materialize, the result would likely be on a legal struggle.
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