Ontario becomes first province to mandate vaccines for long-term care staff

May 31 2021, 1:42 pm

The Government of Ontario is making it mandatory for long-term care homes to have COVID-19 immunization policies in place for staff members.

Officials have set out minimum standards that will be required in the policies. The measure was announced on May 31, making Ontario the first province in Canada to do so.

“Widespread vaccination within long-term care homes is the best way to protect residents, staff, and their families,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, the Minister of Long-Term Care.

“We want to build on the success of our long-term care vaccination campaign to date.”

Under the policies, long-term care staff members must provide proof of vaccination for both doses or proof of a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated.

Failing proof of immunization or a medical reason, staff will be required to participate in an educational program about the benefits of vaccination and the risks of not being vaccinated.

Every long-term care home in Ontario must implement the policy and will be required to track and report on its implementation. That includes overall staff immunization rates.

The vaccination status of individual staff members will not be shared with the government, they said.

“By encouraging more workers to get vaccinated, the likelihood of infections and outbreaks is reduced,” the province said.

“[This] allows for additional easing of restrictions in homes and more opportunities for residents to enjoy activities that support their wellbeing and quality of life.”

As of 9 am on May 31, more than nine million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Ontario.

To date, the province has seen 531,459 COVID-19 cases and 8,757 virus-related deaths.

Zoe DemarcoZoe Demarco

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