Two groups representing Ontario’s healthcare workers are calling for COVID-19 vaccines to be mandatory within the sector.
The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) issued a statement on July 15, stating that vaccines should be required for all healthcare staff, particularly those who have direct contact with patients.
The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) echoed their sentiments on Friday afternoon, adding that immunizations will protect workers, patients, and the community.
“Vaccines are the best way to control the spread of COVID-19, and remain an essential component in protecting our patients, families, and friends,” said Dr. Adam Kassam, the president of the OMA.
“As a front-line doctor who is fully vaccinated, I am proud to stand with my physician colleagues who continue to advocate for full vaccination of all those eligible.”
The RNAO called on the provincial government to mandate the measure and to bring doses to the workplace so it’s easier for health care workers to get immunized.
Staff should also be provided with two additional paid sick days – one per dose – to go and get vaccinated, the RNAO said.
“As nurses, we are trusted healthcare leaders for evidence-based practice. We advocate for patients’ physical, mental, and emotional needs, said Dr. Doris Grinspun, the RNAO’s CEO.
“To ensure patients are receiving the best quality care possible, we call on all nurses to get two doses and become role models for other healthcare workers.”
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The OMA and RNAO’s statements come on the heels of comments by Premier Doug Ford that he will not mandate COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare workers.
At a press conference Thursday, the Premier said he wouldn’t force healthcare workers, or anyone, to get a vaccine, although he “encourages them to do it.”
“I think it’s their constitutional right to take it or not take it. These are super bright people that work their backs off,” Ford said. “They understand healthcare a lot better than I do.”
To date, just under 80% of Ontario adults aged 18 and older have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 60.5% are fully immunized.