Hospitals Add Vaccine Mandate, Public Health Suggests Businesses Do Same

If you work at City Hall, any City facility, the Guelph Public Library, and the University of Guelph, then you will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, so it would make sense for workers at area hospitals to be fully vaccinated. A joint statement today from Guelph General Hospital another other institutions confirms a coming vaccine mandate, while Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is asking all businesses to plan along similar lines.

In an open letter on the WDG Public Health website, Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum recommended to all employers in the area, in the “strongest possible” terms, to initiate COVID-19 vaccination polices in their workplaces.

“This would add a significant layer of protection when paired with the other COVID-19 workplace health and safety measures you already have in place, such as screening, masking, remote work (when possible) and paid sick leave,” Tenenbaum wrote. “This step will help protect the health and wellbeing of your workplace and the greater WDG community as we enter the fourth wave of the pandemic.”

The letter is posted one day after Guelph hit the milestone of having 90 per cent of eligible residents with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while just over 84 per cent have been fully vaccinated. In the greater region, 84.2 per cent have received one vaccine dose, and 78.8 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

Tenenbaum said that many of the people who got their shots at WDG Public Health clinics did so to satisfy conditions of employment, and that promoting vaccination also promotes safe workplaces.

“I recognize these sacrifices were and are serious challenges for your business,” Tenenbaum said. “Like many residents of the region, I am so grateful to spend my time in a place where businesses put the health of our community first.”

Among those safe workplaces now are area hospitals. Guelph General Hospital and Homewood Health Centre joined Cambridge Memorial Hospital, Grand River Hospital, Groves Memorial Community Hospital, North Wellington Health Care Alliance and St. Mary’s General Hospital to announce a new vaccine mandate policy in a joint statement on Wednesday.

As of October 12, staff, physicians, students, volunteers and contractors working at and with local hospitals will be required to be fully vaccinated. Any staff member that doesn’t get vaccinated will be placed on leave without pay and given a short window into early-November to fulfill the mandate.

“Patient and staff safety are priorities for us,” said Guelph General Hospital CEO Marianne Walker in a statement. “We want to do everything possible to protect our patients, our staff and the health of the community, and we know that vaccines are critical in reducing the spread of the virus.”

The new polices will come into effect on September 7. Current staff and volunteers who are unvaccinated will have to take a mandatory education session along with twice-weekly antigen testing with negative test results prior to coming on-site. By October 12, everyone at the hospitals will have to be vaccinated, but exemptions will still be made for medical reasons and other criteria outlined by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

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