Ontario mandates immunization policies for long-term care homes
Policies will focus on educating staff and monitoring staff immunization rates
Ontario is taking further action to protect long-term care home residents by becoming the first province in Canada to make it mandatory for homes to have COVID-19 immunization policies for staff and to set out the minimum requirements that need to be included in these policies.
“Widespread vaccination within long-term care homes is the best way to protect residents, staff and their families,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, in a news release. “We want to build on the success of our long-term care vaccination campaign to date. That’s why we’re leading the way with new measures to promote full immunization among long-term care staff.”
Under the immunization policies to be put in place at all long-term care homes in the province, each staff member must do one of the following:
- provide proof of vaccination of each dose
- provide a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated
- participate in an educational program about the benefits of vaccination and the risks of not being vaccinated.
Homes will be required to track and report on the implementation of their policies, including overall staff immunization rates. The immunization status of individual staff members will not be shared with the province.
By encouraging more workers to get vaccinated, the likelihood of infections and outbreaks is reduced — which allows for additional easing of restrictions in homes and more opportunities for residents to enjoy activities that support their wellbeing and quality of life.
- Long-term care homes must have their COVID-19 staff immunization policies fully implemented by July 1, 2021.
- Ontario will help homes establish their COVID-19 staff immunization policies by identifying resources they can use or build on to inform workers about the benefits of vaccination.
- Measures Ontario has already undertaken to promote immunization rates in long-term care home staff include a publicly available, free COVID-19 Vaccine Promotion Toolkit and new provisions that allow staff to use paid sick leave to get vaccinated or recover from symptoms resulting from vaccination.
- As of May 30, 2021, it is estimated that, across Ontario, 97 per cent of long-term care residents are fully immunized and more than 89 per cent of staff have received at least their first dose, with approximately 66 per cent fully immunized.