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Trio of children's hospitals in Ontario mandate COVID-19 vaccines for staff

Last Updated Aug 19, 2021 at 10:25 pm EDT

Exterior view of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. CITYNEWS

A trio of children’s hospitals in Ontario are going to require healthcare workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 as of next month.

The Hospital for SickKids, Holland Bloorview and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario are implementing a mandatory vaccine policy for staff, volunteers, learners and contractors which will take effect September 7, 2021.

A statement from SickKids says all staff who are eligible will need to be vaccinated unless they have a documented medical or human rights exemption. For those not in compliance after finishing an education session, “all options will be considered to effectively enforce the policy.”

What those options are was not specified in the statement and it was not immediately clear what proof the hospitals would require.

“Implementing vaccine mandate policies for our staff was not our first choice, nor was it an easy choice to make, but as health-care institutions dedicated to the health of children, we feel it is the right thing to do,” said Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO of SickKids.

The policy is in line with recommendations from the Ontario Medical Association, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario and the American Academy of Pediatrics and go beyond the recent Ford government directive which requires all healthcare workers in the province to get vaccinated or routinely tested prior to coming to work.

The hospital adds it needs to go beyond the provincial guidelines because at least 70 percent of patients and clients at all three organizations are under the age of 12 and currently not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the province supported the move.

“We recognize that some organizations, where a vast majority of patients are not currently eligible to be vaccinated, will need to go beyond the minimum standard set by our directive,” Moore said.