Kenney to drop vaccination mandate for healthcare workers: document

Health Minister Jason Copping is expected to order Alberta Health Services to lift its COVID-19 vaccination mandate for staff, a move experts say could unnecessarily put vulnerable patients at risk .

“Effective March 15, 2022, Alberta Health Services will rescind their current COVID-19 vaccination or testing policy,” states a recent draft directive from Copping to Alberta Health Services that has was obtained by Global News.

Alberta’s former chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jim Talbot, questioned the rationale for the proposed directive.

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“Many of us – as physicians – believe that if you don’t get vaccinated and risk infecting the patients in your care, not only is that unethical, but it’s immoral,” Talbot said Monday. “And so, for the minister (of health) to reverse Alberta Health Services’ own decision — I’m in disbelief.”

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The draft guidance states that AHS workers hired after Nov. 30, 2021 must be fully immunized against COVID-19, and that AHS “may introduce temporary testing of workers for COVID-19 if necessary” to reduce transmission.

Alberta Health Services can choose the “specific terms and conditions” of implementing the guideline, it says, but the health authority must report on its compliance if Copping asks.

Minister Copping and Alberta Health Services have not yet responded to requests for comment.

Alberta health minister details COVID-19 restrictions ending March 1

Alberta health minister details COVID-19 restrictions ending March 1

“It just doesn’t make sense to me”

In August, AHS announced that it would require all employees and contracted vendors, including workers at AHS subsidiaries such as Capital Care and Alberta Precision Laboratories, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The original vaccination deadline was October 31, but the health authority eventually extended that deadline to December 13.

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Less than two weeks after the mandate took effect, and as Omicron cases began to rise in Alberta, the provincial government relaxed its approach. He ordered AHS to give all unvaccinated doctors and staff the opportunity to undergo temporary and frequent COVID-19 testing, at the expense of the worker.

In a Dec. 23 press release, the government said the move would allow around 1,400 full-time and part-time employees who had been placed on unpaid leave to return to work. The vaccination mandate will be reviewed by the end of March 2022, according to the statement.

Infectious disease specialist Dr Lynora Saxinger said she believes ending the vaccination mandate, at this point in the pandemic, would represent “a very, very distant position among healthcare organizations – in the whole world”.

“I would like to see transparent disclosure of the evidence behind this decision, because we’re talking about very vulnerable populations in the health care setting,” Saxinger said.

“I’m really worried,” she said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

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Talbot said the government’s planned lifting of the vaccination mandate goes against established health practices.

“Measles is under control and hepatitis is under control, but we still insist that health care workers and health care students get vaccinated early in their careers to protect themselves and the people who are going to be at risk. their charge,” Talbot said.

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On Saturday, Premier Jason Kenney announced the province was moving to Stage 2 of its pandemic reopening plan on Tuesday.

As part of this stage of the plan, the provincial mask mandate will be lifted, except in high-risk settings, such as facilities operated and contracted by AHS, all continuing care facilities and public transportation. All pandemic restrictions for schools will also be lifted and all capacity restrictions for all places, public and personal, will be removed.

On Monday, Alberta Health reported 14 more deaths from COVID-19 as it released three days of data. Since the start of the pandemic, 3,912 people have died.

Over the weekend, the province identified 1,435 new cases of COVID-19. But the total number of active cases fell by almost 1,000 and stood at 9,188 on Monday.

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