A Niagara Hospital Paused Its Vaccination Policy For Staff Due To Omicron & 'Fifth Wave'
Unvaccinated staff will be allowed to work.
Niagara Health has paused its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy due to the "intensity of the fifth wave."
On Thursday, the hospital announced it needs to focus on its response urgently so unvaccinated employees will be able to work. However, they must frequently test with antigen testing and work with the Occupational Health and Safety team.
Niagara Health's mandatory vaccination program came into effect in October 2021, however, at the time it was put in place, the "Omicron variant was not anticipated," according to a press release.
President and CEO Lynn Guerrier said the hospital will eventually return to the policy.
"We remain committed to a fully vaccinated workforce at our hospital, and we will proceed with the implementation at a later time to be determined."
No jobs were lost at the hospital from the policy, but four individuals were fired from Niagara Health's Long-Term Care Home located in Welland due to "the mandatory vaccination directive from the Ministry of Long-Term Care."
Hospitals across Ontario have been experiencing higher hospitalization rates for COVID-19, which prompted the Ontario government to return to a modified version of Step Two of its reopening plan.
In this step, the government has implemented closures, capacity limits and paused non-emergent or non-urgent surgeries and procedures in hospitals "in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity."
The William Osler Health System, which oversees Brampton Civic Hospital and Etobicoke General Hospital, declared a "Code Orange" this week due to staffing shortages and increased COVID-19 hospitalizations, which have taken a toll on both hospitals' capacity.
Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.