Ontario mandating vaccine policies at all long-term care homes

By News Staff, The Canadian Press

Staring July 1st, all Ontario long-term care homes will be required to have COVID-19 vaccination policies in place for staff, the Ministry of Long-Term Care announced on Monday.

The new policies will provide staff with three options: They can either provide proof of vaccination, proof of a valid medical exemption for the shot, or be required to take an educational course about the benefits of the approved vaccines, and the risks of not being vaccinated.

Ontario will become the first province in Canada to make such a policy mandatory.

“The vast majority of long-term care staff have embraced vaccination to protect their residents. For those without medical issues who are still reluctant, a mandatory education program will be helpful to correct misinformation and alleviate their concerns,” the Ontario Long-Term Care Association said in a release.

Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, applauded the move on Monday during the province’s regular COVID-19 update.

“It’s a good idea,” she said. “It certainly makes sure that people have the info to make an informed decision.”

Yaffe also hinted that vaccination policies could become more widespread beyond long-term care homes.

Western University announced last week that it will require students living in residence to be vaccinated against COVID-19 come September.

Yaffe commented on Western’s policy saying, “I think it will help a lot with the residents in particular because if there is a case, there will be a lot less risk of transmission because people are immunized and there will be much better records about who is immunized and who isn’t.

“I see there is potential for this kind of thing being used in other settings,” she added.

“In terms of employees you cannot require somebody to be vaccinated … but you can require them to provide proof if the policy of the institution is they have a choice — vaccinate, exemptions, or education. I see this as a very positive trend.”

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