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Hesitant long-term care staff asked to give vaccine a shot

Posted: March 28, 2021

(March 27, 2021)

By: Tyler Brownbridge, Windsor Star

Ontario will offer staff working in nursing homes another chance to get a COVID-19 vaccine but stopped short of mandatory vaccination as a condition of employment.

“Certainly the staff in long-term care were really the first group to be prioritized for the vaccines… If you’re first in line, I can understand people wanting to have a little more time to watch and wait around the world and see what’s happening for their own sense of comfort and their own peace of mind,” Long-term Care (LTC) Minister Merrilee Fullerton said Friday. “But it’s very clear now that the vaccines are extremely safe.”

Public health officials will return to LTC homes to offer vaccines to those who were initially reluctant or to new staff, she said.

According to a report by the Ontario COVID-19 science table, 98% of residents and 74% of staff in long-term care (LTC) had received at least a single dose of a vaccine as of March 21.

“Eight weeks after the start of vaccination, the estimated relative reduction in SARS-CoV-2 incidence was 89% in LTC residents and 79% in LTC staff,” the report says. “The estimated relative reduction in COVID-19 deaths in LTC residents was 96% after 8 weeks.”

Of the 7,292 lives lost to the pandemic, 3,892 were LTC residents and 10 were members of the staff.

Public health data confirmed four new cases in LTC residents Friday and six new cases in LTC staff with no new deaths in either group.

Meanwhile, LTC advocates have scheduled a media conference on Monday to demand the Ontario government start allowing seniors living in nursing homes to go outside again.

“Residents, families and advocates at once furious and heartbroken at the ongoing violation of residents’ fundamental human rights,” a statement says. “The vast majority of residents and staff are vaccinated and yet residents are being denied the right to even walk outside and see the springtime, after a year of lockdowns and isolation.”

The statement was issued by Voices of LTC, the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) and the Advocates for Long-Term Care Reform in Ontario.

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