Ontario broadcasts obligatory vaccine plans for well being, training staff; third doses for some
Employers in Ontario’s public education system and several key health care facilities must have COVID-19 vaccination policies for their employees in the coming weeks, the province said Tuesday.
As the provincial government goes through a fourth wave of the pandemic, it issued a press release saying the guidelines are needed to combat the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant in the fall and winter.
Ontario will therefore remain in the last step of its “Roadmap to Reopen” plan for the time being and take a break to further lift the remaining restrictions and occupational safety measures – despite the vaccination targets being exceeded. The province will also offer booster vaccinations for certain vulnerable populations and extend immunization eligibility to children who will turn 12 this year.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, announced the new measures at a press conference in Toronto on Tuesday afternoon.
“We are aggressively preparing for autumn. I am sorry to say that it will be a difficult autumn and winter,” he told reporters.
Moore said he anticipates cases will continue to increase in the fall as people move indoors, especially among teenagers and young adults who are least vaccinated and who will congregate in classrooms in September.
CLOCK | Ontario’s Top Doctor Announces Vaccination Policy for Education and Health Workers:
Ontario Announces Vaccination Policy for Education and Health Workers
Moore alluded to the possibility that further vaccination measures could follow later in the year if needed, but did not directly specify what those might look like in the coming weeks.
“All orders would be targeted, focused, and limited in time,” he said. “We want to minimize the disruption of our economy in the future and minimize the disruption of our schools.”
Strict guidelines for hospitals, healthcare facilities
Moore has directed hospitals, community and home care services to put in place strict vaccination and testing guidelines for all employees, employees, contractors, students and volunteers by September 7th. Emergency services must also have guidelines for paramedics.
The policy does not require vaccination against COVID-19, but those who refuse to be vaccinated must undergo regular antigen tests for the virus. It is comparable to one that is already in place in the provincial long-term care homes.
Healthcare workers must provide evidence of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a medical reason for not vaccinating. Those who do not receive the vaccinations must complete training on COVID-19 vaccines and are routinely tested for the virus before going to work.
Some Ontario hospitals, such as the University Health Network in Toronto, have already implemented vaccination policies for employees that are in line with government plans.
Rules for schools, post-secondary institutions, high risk institutions
In the meantime, the Ministry of Education has announced that it will introduce a vaccination disclosure policy for employees of publicly funded school authorities, as well as staff in private schools and licensed childcare facilities.
When asked why it took so long for an educational staff vaccination policy to last so long, Moore said, “We’ve had a sudden decline in the past few weeks and, quite frankly, we need to redo our efforts to immunize Ontarians.”
Moore said the province is making headway, but “it’s just not going fast enough”. The Delta variant now accounts for 90 percent of detected cases and hospital admission rates are increasing, he said.
The Ministry of Education announced plans to introduce a vaccination disclosure policy for publicly funded school officials, as well as staff in private schools and licensed childcare facilities. (Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press)
Moore also said he is in talks with the Department of Education to discuss a student vaccination policy where parents would report their children’s vaccination status so that public health facilities can keep track of any possible outbreaks.
Those who are not vaccinated against the disease must have frequent rapid antigen tests.
Testing will be required on-site at least once a week or in advance and could escalate to two to three times a week, Moore said.
Tests are currently being provided by the federal government. When asked whether individuals might have to pay for their own rapid tests, Moore said it wasn’t likely, but he didn’t rule out the possibility.
In its press release, the province also noted that vaccination guidelines will be required for the following high-risk situations:
- Post-secondary facilities.
- Licensed retirement homes.
- Women’s shelters.
- Assemble group homes and day programs for adults with developmental disabilities, child treatment centers, and other services for children with special needs, as well as licensed children’s homes.
The province also announced that it would extend eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine to all adolescents who will turn 12 in 2021, citing the examples of Alberta and British Columbia, who took the same step a few months ago and identified no associated risks .
Who will be offered the third dose?
In addition, Ontario will also begin offering third doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to select vulnerable populations, including transplant recipients, those actively being treated for hematologic cancers, people taking certain medications known as anti-CD20 agents become. These groups can receive a third dose at least eight weeks after the second injection.
The third dose is also offered to long-term carers, First Nations retirement homes, and “higher risk” retirement homes. It is unclear which old people’s homes fall into this category. These groups can receive a third dose at least five months after the last dose.
Premier Doug Ford has previously said that he will not make vaccines mandatory in any sector because he believes it is a constitutional right not to inject. Ford has been fully vaccinated against the virus and regularly encourages Ontario residents to receive both doses.
The changes will also occur as the province enters a fourth wave of the pandemic fueled by the more contagious Delta variant, though prominent experts have declared a fourth wave of the pandemic despite a high overall vaccination rate among the eligible population.
The latest data show that the majority of recently reported infections occur in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people.
Meanwhile, NDP and opposition leader Andrea Horwath published a statement in which she described Tuesday’s announcement as “a risky half-measure”.
“A test just once a week is not the same as a mandatory vaccine. That means Ford doesn’t ask anyone – from long-term care to childcare – for a vaccine, “Horwath said.
Earlier this month, after heavy criticism, Horwath withdrew her statements against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for educational staff.
In her statement on Tuesday, she also criticized Ford for refusing to implement a vaccination certificate program.
Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, who on Tuesday also called for mandatory vaccination of all lawmakers, accused Ford of “ogling opponents against the Vaxxen”.
“Mandatory vaccination and mandatory tests are just not the same thing as mandatory vaccination,” he said.
The Ontario Long-Term Care Association also required mandatory vaccinations for all direct care providers.
Other observers said the new policy is showing some progress.
The Ontario School Board Association called the proposed policy for educators a “positive step” to ensure schools stay safe and open, while the Ontario Hospital Association said it was “pleased” that the government is setting basic vaccination policy requirements .
Doris Grinspun, director of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, said the guidelines got too close to the start of the school year to be fully effective, but they would eventually help increase vaccination rates.
348 new COVID-19 cases
Meanwhile, Ontario reported 348 new cases of COVID-19 this morning.
The Ministry of Health announced that of the 331 cases with known vaccination status:
- 203 or about 61 percent were people who had not received a dose.
- 79 or nearly 24 percent were two-dose subjects.
- 49, or about 15 percent, were people on a single dose.
Specifically, the province’s data on the vaccination status of cases does not include a breakdown by age or how long after a first or second vaccination for COVID-19 a person was infected with the virus or whether they were symptomatic at the time of the test.
The new cases include 85 in Toronto, 45 in the Peel region, 41 in Windsor-Essex, 34 in Hamilton, 32 in the York region and 21 in the Halton region.
There were 163 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals on Monday evening – most in just over a month. Of these, 127 were treated in the intensive care unit for COVID-related illnesses.
Anthony Dale, President and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, said 10 new adult patients were sent to intensive care units yesterday, warning that a relatively slow but steady increase in total admissions over the past two weeks is likely related to the Delta variant.
The Department of Health also reported the deaths of 10 more people with COVID-19 this morning, but said six of the deaths “occurred more than two months ago” and were included as part of a data cleanse by Public Health Ontario.
Ontario’s official death toll stands at 9,428.
Here are some other key pandemic indicators and numbers from the Ministry of Health’s daily provincial update:
Seven-day moving average of daily events: 473.
Tests completed in the last 24 hours: 17.408.
Province-wide test positive rate: 2.6 percent.
Current cases: 3,930.
Vaccinations: 40,626 doses were administered by health officials on Monday. Approximately 73.7 percent of eligible Ontarians aged 12 and over have now received two syringes. That corresponds to about 65.1 percent of the total population of Ontario.