A message from your Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Kyle;
The Health Department has been working with its community partners since the beginning of the year to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are available to all eligible residents. I am pleased to share that our vaccine coverage rates continue to improve. Approximately 75 per cent of eligible residents are now fully vaccinated, which is certainly helping to protect our community against serious illness spread. I would like to see our vaccine coverage rates continue to improve to protect more of our residents against COVID-19.
One way that employers can help to protect their workers and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission is to establish a workplace vaccination policy. Employers have an obligation to maintain a safe work environment for their workers. Promoting vaccine uptake is important to help reduce COVID-19 workplace outbreaks and build confidence for a safer return to work. Vaccination against COVID-19 is one of the best ways to protect workers who work in a location with common areas and/or where workers can have contact with other workers, customers/patrons, or the public. The Delta variant of the coronavirus is more contagious, with greater risk for severe illness and hospitalization. COVID-19 vaccination provides an important layer of protection for workers, their families, and the community.
Workplaces can help encourage vaccination by creating a supportive environment that makes it easier for workers to get vaccinated and by providing information from trusted sources. There may be situations where individuals are not able to be vaccinated and it is important to protect the health of those workers and others around them. Workplace policies should also list alternative options for workers who decline to get vaccinated for reasons protected by Ontario’s Human Rights Code, including those unable to complete their vaccination series for medical reasons. Some options to consider include use of additional PPE, frequent COVID-19 testing, worker relocation, and modified work or reassignments.
The Health Department has developed Recommendations for Establishing a Vaccination Policy for your Workplace to assist employers to develop policies appropriate for their workers and those who come in contact with them. The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect your workplace from the risks of COVID-19; it is safe and highly effective at reducing virus spread and protecting against serious illness.