City of Toronto has suspended 248 employees without pay this week as a result of their failure to have a flu vaccination.
The Canadian city imposed the suspensions as part of its fight against the H1N1 (swine flu) virus which prompted an increase in hospital visits during the 2017/18 flu season.
The Toronto public health unit said in its annual report that 5,214 cases of the flu were reported in the Canadian city in 2017/18. According to the Canadian Health Promotion Association, for every case of influenza or another respiratory illness, 10 people are expected to seek medical care.
A survey by Canada’s Senate Health Committee found that 30% of adults said they didn’t go to see their family doctor or go to the emergency room when they were sick because they didn’t want to take time off work. A 2015 survey found that 45% of adults didn’t get a flu shot. In the US, only 59% of people aged 18 and older in the states of California, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Minnesota, Montana, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Arkansas, and South Dakota have had a flu shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Toronto public health unit said the suspensions would help improve the efficiency of its flu immunization program, and emphasized that up to 65% of those with the flu don’t realize that they have it.