Long term care workers must be vaccinated by Nov. 15

Heather Wright Photo

Workers in long term care homes – everyone involved in direct resident care to support workers, students and volunteers – will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 15.

Minister of Long Term Care, Rod Phillips, announced today only those with a valid medical exemption will be excused from the new requirement.

“Vaccination rates of staff in many homes are not high enough in the face of the risk posed by the Delta variant, and this is putting vulnerable residents at risk,” says Phillips in a news release.

Phillips says by the end of August, 44 per cent of the homes had staff vaccination rates below 90 per cent.

“We need to take this step now.”

The minister has increasingly faced calls to implement a mandatory vaccine policy in long term care as the number of homes with COVID cases increasing.

Today, there are 19 long term care homes with COVID-19 outbreaks – two more than yesterday. And Thursday, a resident passed away of the virus. Hundreds more are forced back into isolation because of the cases in their homes.

The province is in the middle of offering the third dose of the vaccine to seniors in long term care, about 64 per cent of the doses have been given already.

Some homes have already made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory. In Petrolia, Mike Fiddick, in a social media post, said that anyone who worked inside Fiddick’s Nursing Home would have to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. At the time of the post Aug. 31, he said 87 per cent of the staff had been fully vaccinated.

Statistics released by the ministry today show 89 per cent of the staff are fully vaccinated and 92 per cent have had their first shot.

At Lambton Meadowview, 79 per cent of the staff is fully vaccinated; 83 per cent have had their first dose.

The only people who won’t have to show proof of full vaccination are families of residents and essential care givers. At Fiddicks, they will have to have a rapid test to enter.

“By making vaccines mandatory for all team members, we are strengthening our commitment to doing everything possible to keep COVID-19 out of our homes and communities,” Fiddick said.

There has been concern that mandatory vaccines could force some workers out of the industry at a time where there are already massive labour shortages. Phillips says a COVID outbreak at any home could take out even more employees. And he urged health care workers to get vaccinated.

“The staff, who I know take their duties to the residents very, very seriously, I urge them to get that vaccination.”

Vaccination rates of staff in long term care in Lambton County in percentage as of the end of August according to the ministry:

Lambton Meadowview 83 first dose/79 second

Fiddicks Petrolia 92 first dose/89 second

Afton Park Place Sarnia 87 first/71 second

Marshall Gowland Sarnia 91 first/88 second

North Lambton Forest 89 first/87 second

Sumac, Sarnia 87 first/81 second

Trillium, Sarnia 88 first/87 second

Twin Lakes, Sarnia 81 first/71 second

Vision, Sarnia 89 first/81 second

Watford Quality Care 96 first/96 second