Science in part is about asking questions then looking for an answer with an open mind, but apparently in Ontario today some questions can get you into trouble. My name is Tim Sullivan and I have been teaching high school science, biology, and physics in Ontario for 17 years. It happened last year when I
Science in part is about asking questions then looking for an answer with an open mind, but apparently in Ontario today some questions can get you into trouble.
My name is Tim Sullivan and I have been teaching high school science, biology, and physics in Ontario for 17 years.
It happened last year when I was teaching a Grade 11 university biology course. The nurses were in the cafeteria giving vaccinations and I thought it would be a great idea to go and get the inserts for the vaccines they were giving and read them to the class. I read over the possible side effects listed in the vaccine label and inserts to the class and was surprised that I was not aware of many of the possible side effects. At lunchtime that day I went back to the cafeteria and asked the nurses if they warned the students of these side effects. I asked if they warned the students about the risk of demyelination (when your immune system attacks the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells) which was listed as a possible side effect in all four vaccines they had with them that day.
I was reading from the manufacturers insert when I asked the nurses if they warned the students of the risk of vasculitis, guillain-barre syndrome, encephalopathy, and in the case of the MMR vaccine, death, amongst other possible side effects. The answer was no.
Two days later I found myself in the principal’s office and was informed I was being written up for harassment of the nurses. This accusation has led me to having to show up in front of the Ontario College of Teachers (Feb. 21 and 22) for a disciplinary hearing.
This raises a couple serious questions. When did it become unprofessional to read a label to a class or ask a nurse about side effects?
Why are nurses being forced to violate their own code of ethics when it comes to informed consent for a medical procedure? It also violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees Canadian Citizens must be informed in order to give consent to a medical procedure. It even violates the Geneva Convention statutes on informed consent for prisoners.
If it is now considered unprofessional for a teacher to ask questions about a label in Ontario it is the duty of the Ontario College of Teachers to administer discipline, otherwise I plan to continue reading labels and asking questions while I encourage students to do the same.
Tim Sullivan BSc BEd2 comments