The Flu Shot: Redux

I predicted that my recent blog ‘Flu Shot: Great Intentions, Not So Great Execution’ was going to be controversial, but I actually underestimated the degree/passion of responses.  I am thankful for all of the responses, some of which were very critical and some of which were very supportive.  I guess this is what makes a blog successful; it provokes debate and a wide spectrum of reaction.

In spite of this, I regret that I did not make the most important point clearer, and as a result the main point of my message may have been lost …in some cases.  I will now attempt to clarify and provide some further evidence to support the main point of my message.


  1. I make no judgment as to whether pharmacists providing the flu shot is in itself a good idea or not. Insofar as more people get the flu shot as a result, it is probably a good idea.


  1. I make no judgment as to whether the flu shot itself is a good idea. There is argument on both sides, but I make no comment on this either.


  1. I do personally believe that the physical act itself of giving intramuscular injections is more technical in nature than cognitive, but this is my narrow opinion and not the main point I am addressing.


The main point is simply this.

No pharmacist, should they object for any reason, ever be forced into giving injections by their pharmacy business employer under threat of losing their continued employment.

It is clearly evident by way of a recent poll that 40% of responding pharmacists have indicated that they have been pressured to become injection certified against their will, and under threat of losing their jobs.  This surely cannot be good for pharmacists or the public.

The reasons why many pharmacists do not want to provide injections are varied and many, and I offer no judgment on these reasons; but clearly many do not want to do this.

Here are some of the comments we received:

“Pharmacists should not be forced into giving injections if they are not comfortable giving them” (On)

“Stores not set up properly” (On)

“Privacy is not provided” (NB)

“Thank you Bill, I wholeheartedly agree” (AB)

“I would like to say more, but I am afraid I will lose my job” (ON)

“I agree that giving injections is an economic issue for the government and the chains” (ON)

I could go on; the list is quite long.  In addition, I sent this blog to a large number of pharmacist emails directly.  In significant numbers the responses, on condition of confidentiality and because of fear of reprisal, have expressed dismay and distress.

Surely it will not speak well for the profession of pharmacy when the public and the Ministries of Health become aware of this reality, i.e. that in many cases retailing imperatives are driving pharmacy behaviour and clinical delivery.

Further, I would like to offer the following definition of ‘constructive dismissal” from a leading Canadian Constructive Dismissal Law Firm.

“Constructive dismissal is the term used for situations where the employer makes fundamental changes to an existing employee’s terms and conditions of employment”

Further: “In such situations employees can claim damages for wrongful dismissal”.

In such cases, “The employee has both statutory and common law rights under law”

Surely this will soon be tested in law and the result will become case evident.  In other words, besides being highly unprofessional, this situation is likely unlawful.

At the risk of belabouring the point, this is all about control and who has it.  All pharmacists, regardless of the place where they practice, should have control over how they practice, and the relationship each pharmacist has with each patient should not be interfered with, for any reason, least of which would be for commercial reasons.

You would think that the Pharmacy Colleges and Pharmacy Associations would be all over this, and yesterday.  One wonders why not?

I do hope that my message is now clear.