Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday August 19, 2021
Ontario announces mandatory vaccine plans for health, education workers; 3rd doses for some
Employers in Ontario’s public education and several key health-care settings will need to have COVID-19 vaccination policies in place for staff in the coming weeks, the province announced Tuesday.
As the provincial government navigates a fourth wave of the pandemic, it issued a news release saying the policies are required to help combat spread of the highly infectious delta variant as fall and winter approach.
Ontario will therefore remain in the final step of its “Roadmap to Reopen” plan for now, pressing pause on further lifting remaining restrictions and workplace safety measures — despite surpassing vaccination targets. The province will also offer booster shots to certain vulnerable populations and expand eligibility for vaccination to children turning 12 this year.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, announced the new measures at a news conference in Toronto Tuesday afternoon.
“We are preparing aggressively for the fall. I’m sorry to say I think it’s going to be a difficult fall and winter,” he told reporters.
Moore has said he expects cases to rise further in the fall when people move indoors, particularly among youth and young adults who are the least-vaccinated demographics and will gather in classrooms in September.
Moore alluded to the possibility that additional immunization measures could come later in the year if needed, but didn’t state outright what those might look like, saying most of the policies he wants to see implemented are in place and more details will follow in the coming weeks.
“Any orders would be targeted, focused and time-limited,” he said. “We want to minimize disruption of our economy going forward and minimize disruption to our schools.”
Moore has issued a directive to hospitals and community and home-care service providers to have a strict vaccination and testing policies in place by Sept. 7 for all employees, staff, contractors, students and volunteers. Ambulance services will also need to have policies in place for paramedics.
The directive doesn’t make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory, but those who decline the shots will need to undergo regular antigen testing for the virus. It’s similar to one already in place in the province’s long-term care homes.
Staff at health-care facilities will need to provide proof of full immunization against COVID-19 or a medical reason for not being vaccinated. Those who don’t get the shots will need to complete an education session about COVID-19 vaccines and will be routinely tested for the virus before coming to work.
Some Ontario hospitals such as Toronto’s University Health Network have already introduced staff vaccination policies along the same lines as the government’s plans. (CBC)