Ontario Making COVID-19 Vaccines Mandatory for Long-Term Care Workers
On Friday, October 1st, the Ontario government announced it’s making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all long-term care workers, support workers, volunteers and students. Those who are not vaccinated must provide a medical exemption or they will not be permitted to enter the home.
Previously, workers were able to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and take part in educational training explaining the benefits of vaccinations.
“This measure is essential,” said Rod Phillips, Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care, citing the “unacceptable” vaccination rates in some homes across the province.
The province’s vaccine mandate will take effect November 15, 2021. It does not currently apply to visitors, though they will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
The announcement comes after a group of five major Canadian long-term care home operators went public in August stating that they would require all staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be placed on an unpaid leave of absence.
“As rates of infection once again increase in communities across the country, unvaccinated staff are more likely to bring the virus to work,” the joint statement read. “The safety of our residents in long-term care and retirement homes, who trust us to provide the care and services they need, is paramount.
Related: Learn about how doctors can combat vaccine hesitancy.
Long-term care homes across Ontario have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since April 24, 2020, 15,598 residents and 7,355 staff have been infected, with 3,818 residents and 13 staff members dying from the virus. There are currently 19 long-term care homes in Ontario experiencing an active outbreak.