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Vaccine not required for hospital staff; testing for those who opt out

Failure to comply with policy may result in termination

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Staff at the North Bay Regional Health Centre are not being forced to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a requirement to keep their job.

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Kim McElroy, communications manager for the health centre, said the hospital is committed to achieving 100 per cent compliance with its vaccine policy.

However, employees will have some options.

McElroy said they can choose to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination to Occupational Health Safety and Wellness, or provide written proof of medical contraindication from their regular, qualified medical practitioner.

She said staff who choose not to be vaccinated, or are unsure of whether they want to be vaccinated, are required to complete a COVID-19 education program.

“Staff that are in category two or three will be required to obtain a COVID-19 antigen test every seven days. Failure to comply with the COVID-19 policy will result in discipline up to and including termination of employment, loss of privileges or placement, McElroy said.

“The health centre will review this policy on an as needed basis and will make adjustments to align with any ministry mandates, directives or organizational considerations.”

It’s unknown how many hospital staff are fully vaccinated.

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore has required hospitals, community and home-care service providers to have a strict vaccination and testing policies in place by Sept. 7 for staff, students, employees and volunteers.

The directive from Moore doesn’t make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory, however, there will be a regular testing process for those who decline the vaccination.

Jamie Lowery, chief executive officer at Cassellholme Home for the Aged, said the long-term care home is currently following the guidelines set out by the ministry.

“At this time, we have about 90 per cent of our staff vaccinated. About 30 people are not for either medical reasons, they are on leave or simply object,” he said.

“We currently do not have plans to compel people to receive the vaccine, but certainly encourage them.”

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