Intended for healthcare professionals


Flu vaccination: Toronto hospitals cannot implement staff “vaccinate or mask” policy, says ruling

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 14 September 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3931
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

A group of hospitals in Toronto, Canada, must abandon a policy of forcing healthcare workers to wear surgical masks during the flu season if they have not received the vaccine, an arbitrator has ruled.

The Ontario Nurses Association successfully argued that the requirement was unreasonable, illogical, and a breach of its collective agreement. That agreement stipulated that no nurse could be forced to accept the flu vaccination. But the “vaccinate or mask” policy mainly aimed to compel healthcare workers to accept vaccination, arbitrator William Kaplan found.

He rejected the contention of St Michael’s Hospital, the other party in the case, that this was primarily a patient safety measure. The hospital had failed to prove its case that masks reduce flu transmission, he said, calling …

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