Mandatory vaccinations could be coming soon for healthcare workers in Chatham-Kent.
According to Lori Marshall, president of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, all healthcare workers should be required to be fully vaccinated to protect themselves and their patients.
Marshall said the CKHA is working alongside the Ontario Hospital Association to develop a policy that requires health care workers to get vaccinated.
The OMA said all healthcare workers in the province should be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
In a news release issued July 16, the association said mandatory vaccinations in the field are necessary to protect workers, patients and the broader community.
“Vaccines are the best way to control the spread of COVID-19 and remain an essential component in protecting our patients, families and friends,” said OMA president Dr. Adam Kassam in a statement.
When asked whether it will be mandatory for healthcare workers to get vaccinated, Premier Doug Ford said that no one should be forced to be immunized, while they’re encouraged to do so.
“I’m not in favour of a mandatory certification and neither, by the way, is the chief medical officer,” said Ford. “Folks, just please go get vaccinated.”
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario said Ford was “on the wrong side of science” with his position on the issue of mandatory shots.
“Nurses stand with science and for patients,” the group said on Twitter. “This is why we call for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.”
Marshall said she could not confirm a number regarding the number of local health care workers vaccinated. She added staff are asked to voluntarily report their vaccination status to their occupational health and safety department.
“I don’t have a confirmed number,” said Marshall. “I continue to believe the rate is high among hospital staff and physicians at CKHA.”
As of July 22, adults in Chatham-Kent have a 76 percent first-dose coverage rate and a full vaccination rate of 64 percent.
While it is not currently mandatory to get vaccinated, Marshall said she is anticipating there will be some degree of a policy across the province.
“At this stage, we haven’t made a change to our policy or our practice, but I would anticipate that in the near future, there will be some degree of a policy across the province,” said Marshall.
CK Public Health is offering walk-in appointments for residents looking to receive their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Bradley Centre Clinic in Chatham.
According to officials, the walk-ins will run until supply runs out. Those looking for a specific time and date for their vaccine are encouraged to book an appointment online or by calling 519-351-1010 and leaving a message.
Details for walk-ins are as follows:
Wednesday, July 28 from 12 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 29 from 12 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Friday, July 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News