Ontario extends deadline for LTC staff to be fully vaccinated

Data on staff inoculation rates from 57 LTC homes remained “outstanding”

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Ontario is extending the deadline for nursing home workers to prove they’ve had a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to Dec. 13.

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The delay follows a recent recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) that there be an eight-week interval between doses.

The provincial government released new data on immunization levels in long-term care (LTC) staff showing that 98% of staff in nursing homes have had a first dose and 95% are fully vaccinated.

However, data on staff inoculation rates from 57 LTC homes remained “outstanding,” a government statement says.

LTC Minister Rod Phillips has issued a directive that unvaccinated staff members be barred from entering their place of work until they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The staff had been told to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15, but now has to show proof of at least a first dose by that date.

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Phillips announced the vaccination directive — which applies to staff, volunteers and students — on Oct. 1.

At that time, he said of the 626 LTC homes in Ontario, 367 had staff immunization levels of less than 90% and 99 homes had a rate below 80%, including one home below 40%.

Other frontline health-care workers are not covered by a provincewide mandatory vaccination policy, although individual hospitals and other health-care facilities may enforce one.

Premier Doug Ford has expressed concern that forcing all frontline health-care workers to be vaccinated as a condition of work would lead to staffing shortages and exacerbate wait lists for surgeries and other procedures.

aartuso@postmedia.com

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