In late July, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), the governing body overseeing two of the largest hospitals in Kingston, announced plans for instituting a “COVID-19 immunization policy.”
Those plans allowed healthcare workers at KHSC hospitals and sites to opt for one of three options by no later than Friday, Jul. 30, 2021: provide proof of vaccination; provide a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated, or; complete an education module about the benefits of vaccination and the risks of being unvaccinated.
According to Elizabeth Bardon, Incident Commander for KHSC, less than three-quarters of those healthcare workers had done so as of Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.
“To date, 74 per cent of KHSC’s health-care workers have complied with the policy. Of those, around 90 per cent have provided evidence that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” Bardon said in an email to Kingstonist.
“We are now following up directly with those who have not yet completed one of the three steps.”
Bardon said it is important to note that “vaccination status is not automatically available to employers, as it is personal health information and employees must consent to provide this information.”
“We continue to strongly encourage our health-care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as it is an effective way to reduce transmission and protect staff, patients and their families from serious illness,” she continued.
“Infection prevention and control measures such as screening and the use of personal protective equipment continue at KHSC in order to provide the safest possible environment for everyone.”
When discussing the matter of COVID-19 vaccinations amongst KHSC healthcare workers in late July, Bardon said that KHSC had put “additional steps in place for those who are not yet fully vaccinated related to screening and personal protective equipment, and are exploring other options to provide the safest possible experience for our patients and team.”
While KHSC is not mandating its employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, two of Kingston’s largest institutions – Queen’s University and St. Lawrence College – announced last week that they would be mandating vaccination of all staff and students for the coming school year. Meanwhile, Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, is expected to make an announcement on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, regarding stricter vaccination policies – either requiring proof of vaccination or regular testing – for healthcare and education workers.
Currently, 75 per cent of adults in the region have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021.
Kingstonist will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as more information becomes available.