The argument over obligatory COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers is heating up in Canada, as more countries adopt the contentious strategy to protect healthcare settings and combat the development of more infectious variations. Requiring vaccines as a condition of employment in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other industries involving hands-on contact with patients is not new in Canada and experts believe it should be the same in the case of this epidemic.
Canada lacks precise statistics on the percentage of immunized healthcare professionals. However, more than 80% of eligible Canadians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination, and almost 60% have received two – an incredible achievement, to be sure, but one that is already showing symptoms of waning.
Health-care professionals were among the first in Canada to have access to COVID-19 vaccinations in order to protect themselves and their patients from infection and prevent hospitals and long-term care facilities from becoming overrun by outbreaks. However, the topic of whether they should now be forced to be vaccinated in order to do their duties is becoming more pressing as Canada’s vaccination program slows ahead of the reopening of the border to US visitors and the start of school in September.
“I certainly believe we should make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory in health care – it’s a no-brainer,” said Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and member of Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization. “It is critical that individuals who provide direct, hands-on care to our most vulnerable citizens get completely vaccinated. That should be without any ifs, ands, or buts.”