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Fairhaven COVID-19 Family Communication – October 1, 2021

The following announcement was just relayed to long term care Homes by the Ministry of Long Term Care:

“Effective today (October 1), the Minister of Long-Term Care has issued a revised Minister’s Directive: Long-Term Care Home COVID-19 Immunization Policy. Per the revised Directive, every licensee must ensure that all staff, support workers, students, and volunteers provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a valid medical exemption. Existing staff, students and volunteers, as well as support workers who currently attend the home, must provide this proof by November 15, 2021. Effective immediately, any new staff, support workers, students or volunteers must provide it before they begin working, undertaking their placement or volunteering in the home.

Moving to a province-wide mandatory vaccination policy is a progressive step that many in the sector have called for, and we know you are well-poised to communicate this rapidly to your teams, residents and families, and ensure that staff are supported to get their first dose as soon as possible in order to meet the November 15th deadline for two doses. Staff, support workers, students or volunteers who choose not to provide proof of vaccination, or proof of a valid medical exemption, by the required date will not be able to attend a long-term care home to work, undertake a student placement or volunteer. This directive has also been updated to support public posting of home level data. Following on the advance notice provided via LTCHomes.net in September, we will start to post this data today in combination with the updated immunization policy. Our goal is to support transparency and build confidence that collectively, long-term care sector partners have made significant progress in promoting the benefits of vaccination.”

Fairhaven’s vaccination policy will be revised accordingly; proof of full vaccination status must be submitted by November 15th, 2021.

The revised Directive can be accessed through this link:

https://www.ltchomes.net/LTCHPORTAL/Content/Snippets/001.%20Minister’s%20Directive%20LTCH%20COVID-19%20Immunization%20policy%202021-10-01%20Highlighted.pdf

The Letter from the Associate Deputy Minister can be accessed through this link:

https://www.ltchomes.net/LTCHPORTAL/Content/Snippets/001.%20AsDM%20Memo_Updated%20Immunization%20Policy%202021-10-01_final.pdf

Fairhaven Staff COVID Bulletin #133 – Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations

Mandatory Vaccinations

New modelling released by the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, on September 1st, predicts a substantial fourth wave, which has the potential to be significantly worse than the third wave, in our province.  The Advisory Table also expects, among the unvaccinated, a rapid increase in the number of seriously ill people needing hospital care as workplaces and education re-open in September.  All age groups are expected to be affected, with the potential for cases to exceed ICU capacity.  It also stressed that, due to the more contagious Delta variant, and in order to avoid another lockdown, the number of people aged 12-plus in Ontario who are fully vaccinated needs to accelerate substantially to more than 85 per cent.  Individuals’ contacts need to be reduced to about 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels until vaccination rates reach a level where the population is protected.  No vaccine can provide 100% effectiveness against contracting an illness, but COVID vaccination offers substantial protection against severe health outcomes. The Advisory Table does not expect to see near the same proportion of severely ill cases in the vaccinated.  Limiting large gatherings, reducing indoor density, maintaining indoor mask mandates, working from home (when possible), and implementing vaccine certificates and mandates will all assist in curbing the fourth wave.

Municipal and Peterborough Public Health Response

On September 22, 2021, the City of Peterborough Council, sitting as Committee of the Whole, approved Report CLSHR21-007 (City of Peterborough – Workplace Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy) which recommended the approval of a Workplace COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Policy.  This policy, set out as Appendix A to Report CLSHR21-007, included the following policy statements:

“4.1 Mandatory Vaccinations and Proof of Vaccination:

a) The City requires that all Individuals and Contractors covered by this policy be Fully Vaccinated against COVID-19. This is consistent with Public Health’s guidance to help prevent the infection and spread of COVID-19, and as an integral part of its public health and safety measures.

b) The City requires that all Individuals covered by this policy provide Proof of Vaccination, unless an Exemption has been granted. Proof of Vaccination will be collected in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the City’s Health Information Procedure.

c) For the initial implementation of this policy, Proof of Vaccination must be provided by October 15, 2021, for first dose vaccinations and by November 12, 2021, for second dose vaccinations. Deadlines for subsequent vaccinations or boosters will be established by the employer at that time to allow individuals a grace period to become Fully Vaccinated.”

The County of Peterborough received Report CAO 2021-027 on September 22, 2021, as well.  This report included the following recommendations:

“That Report CAO 2021-27 Corporate COVID-19 Prevention and Mandatory Vaccination Program Policy be received;

That Policy No. CORP-18, COVID-19 Prevention & Mandatory Vaccination be approved; and

That Council directs the Chief Administrative Officer (and delegates) to ensure the implementation and administration of all aspects of the Corporate COVID-19 Prevention and Mandatory Vaccination Program Policy.”

On September 9, 2021, Peterborough Public Health (PPH), issued a media release that recommended mandatory vaccination policies be adopted by employers in the County and City of Peterborough.

Long Term Care Sector Response

A group of major Canadian long-term care operators have announced that they will require all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 this Fall.  Chartwell Retirement Residences, Extendicare, Responsive Group Inc., Revera Inc. and Sienna Senior Living issued a joint statement on August 26, 2021, about their plan.  Employees who are not fully vaccinated by Oct. 12th will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence.  Under their policies, vaccination will also be required for new hires, students and other personnel working with the companies.

On September 15th, 2021, a group of fifteen Ontario not-for-profit and municipal long-term care and retirement homes criticized the province “for failing to introduce mandatory vaccinations and announced they will instead do it themselves.”  In their statement, they noted that Ontario has begun to see breakthrough infections which have impacted long-term care homes, including deaths of some vaccinated Residents. The group also remarked that scientists and public health officials recommend higher rates of vaccination within the population as the best way to prevent infection and death.  Members of the not-for-profit and municipal coalition have made mandatory vaccinations a condition of employment, both for existing and new staff. The policies will go into effect over the next number of weeks.

Fairhaven’s Environment

Given the fact that they live in a group setting, and may have underlying medical conditions, Residents are at increased risk for contracting COVID-19 and experiencing serious outcomes.  A high rate of vaccination in our Home is important to protect all the people who live in, work at, and visit Fairhaven, and to help reduce the risk of outbreaks which require Residents to be isolated. Isolation means Residents lose in-person social interaction and the ability to engage in activities; the effects of isolation may be greater for Residents who have dementia and/or a cognitive impairment.

Per the Minister’s Directive:  LONG-TERM CARE HOME COVID-19 IMMUNIZATION POLICY, effective September 2, 2020, a licensee [Home] may decide to remove the option set out in subsection 2.2(c) [COVID-19 Vaccination education] and require all staff, student placements and volunteers to either provide the proof required in subsection 2.2 (a) [proof of full vaccination status] or 2.2 (b) [medical exemption].  There are only two valid/recognized grounds for medical exemptions from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine:

  1. an allergic reaction to a component of the vaccine within an individual, which must be confirmed by an allergist or immunologist.
  2. if an individual suffered myocarditis or pericarditis after the first dose of a vaccine.

Fairhaven’s owners (the County and City of Peterborough) have both implemented policies which make vaccines mandatory for all of their staff, whether they work remotely or at municipal service locations.

Fairhaven is committed to providing a safe workplace.  In accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, COVID-19 is classified as an infectious disease which, by definition, presents a clear occupational health and safety hazard.  Employers are obligated to take every reasonable precaution to protect workers against infectious diseases.  Given recent Provincial announcements regarding case projections, and proof of vaccination requirements for man indoor settings, and the PPH’s recommendations, Fairhaven has established a Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.  Employees that do not disclose their vaccination status would be deemed to not be vaccinated and the attached policy would apply to them with that assumption.

All staff and volunteers of Fairhaven must receive their first and second vaccine shots by November 5, 2021.  If this condition is not met by November 5th, or evidence for one of the two recognized medical exemptions for not receiving the vaccine (confirmed by a doctor) has not been provided, the employee will be placed on an unapproved unpaid leave of absence, for an indefinite period of time, pending further changes in provincial legislation and/or changes in Fairhaven’s immunization policy.  For those choosing to receive their first and second vaccines, they can book appointments at pharmacies or any clinics in the area that are offering the shots.