05/20/2013 08:31 EDT | Updated 07/20/2013 05:12 EDT

Flu shot for health workers urged by Ont. medical officer

Ontario's chief medical officer of health is renewing her push for health workers to get their shots.

Dr. Arlene King's push comes after a severe flu season among residents of long-term care homes.

There were more than 350 flu outbreaks, compared to about 100 the year before. That number comes even though most residents are vaccinated.

King said three quarters of long-term care workers were vaccinated last year. But she said that number needs to be higher.

"The bottom line here is that health-care workers have both a moral obligation with respect to patient safety because they certainly can transmit infections to vulnerable patients, and they certainly are a role model for the rest of society," King said.

King wants the rate of flu immunization coverage to be reported publicly.

She said that could put pressure on institutions and workers.

A spokesman for the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions says he doesn't have a problem with that.

However, Michael Hurley said increasing vaccinations for workers is not the solution.

Hurley said the public brings infections into facilities during visits.

Mostly, though, Hurley said vaccines aren't very effective.

"There's an overreliance on drugs as a solution for our medical problems and this is an example of that," he claimed.

He also said some staff are allergic to the shots.

Hurley said if a worker chooses not to be vaccinated, he or she should be removed from dealing directly with seniors.