"The first duty should be do no harm."
Even though Premier Doug Ford confirmed earlier this month that health care workers won't be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine, the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is still fighting.
In an open letter addressed to Ford on July 20, RNAO provided several sources in support of their argument to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all of Ontario's health care workers. Now the organization has set up a new call-to-action campaign to take their fight a step further.
"The evidence is very clear that the vaccine is extremely effective," Doris Grinspun, CEO of RNAO, told Narcity. "The side effects are minuscule compared to the risk of the side effects if you contract the virus."
"It is an issue of protecting our patients, protecting our colleagues, and also, protecting the health system so it can continue to function," she added.
Bill Campbell, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Health, told Narcity that the government is working to "encourage" health care workers to get vaccinated, rather than force them.
"The COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandated for Ontarians, but we do strongly suggest that people embrace the opportunity now that four vaccines have been approved by Health Canada," Campbell said.
"They're already burdened enough."
While there is the concern that frontline health care workers are at an increased risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19, Grinspun spoke of the patients first.
"[Patients are] already burdened enough with the health condition they have or with the happy condition, like going in and giving birth," she said. "They don't need to be worried [about], 'Will I get the virus now?'"
Another "grave" concern Grinspun voiced was the apparent lack of public data regarding the current vaccination rate among Ontario's health care workers.
On Friday, July 23, RNAO published a call-to-action for Ontarians who want to call on the Ford government to change its stance and require vaccinations for health care workers.
"Rules for vaccination should not be left to individual employers," the action alert reads. "Now is the time for Ontario to show leadership in this critical issue."
Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.
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