New University Health Network policy requires staff to disclose COVID-19 vaccination status

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Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN) will require all staff working at each of its hospitals to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status as part of a newly implemented policy.

A statement from UHN said notification to staff regarding the new policy began at the end of June. It will require all staff to report one of four options to UHN’s health services department: if they have been vaccinated; if they are exempt from vaccination for medical reasons; if they wish not to disclose their vaccination status; or if they will not be receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at this time.

For those individuals who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, UHN said physician documentation will need to be provided and an education module about vaccination would need to be completed by individuals who are choosing no to get vaccinated or will not be disclosing their vaccination status, UHN said.

READ MORE: Ontario reports 192 COVID-19 cases, 1 death

The policy applies to full-time, part-time and casual staff.

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“We are implementing this to keep patients and staff as safe as we possibly can. The best protection for anyone is double vaccination which has been made available to all employees of UHN. We will continue to offer vaccination to employees through our Health Services area,” a statement from UHN said.

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Anyone who is not fully vaccinated will be required to complete rapid tests and report results to staff 48 hours before coming into work.

UHN said at least 85 per cent of full-time staff have been vaccinated; it’s unclear how many part-time and casual staff are fully immunized.

In a staff memo dated July 12, 2021, UHN’s president and CEO Dr. Kevin Smith encouraged all employees to get vaccinated.

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“As I continue to hear about the ravages of this disease, I am again asking everyone to get vaccinated … As Dr. Brad Wouters (Executive Vice President, Science & Research) stated to me recently: for individuals who remain unvaccinated, it isn’t a question of ‘if’ you get COVID-19, it is a matter of ‘when,’” the memo said.

UHN operates eight hospital sites; Princess Margaret, Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals as well as five​ Toronto rehab sites.

Many health-care workers, including the Ontario Medical Association and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario have been calling on the province to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all health-care workers, a policy that Premier Doug Ford has said he will not support.

READ MORE: Ontario health worker groups want mandatory COVID-19 shots for health care workers

As of 8 p.m. on Thursday, the Ontario government said more than 18.7 million total COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered. That marked an increase of 120,231 vaccines (17,583 for a first shot and 102,648 for a second shot) in the last day.

There are more than eight million people fully immunized with two doses, which is 66 per cent of the adult (18+) population. First dose adult coverage stands at 80.5 per cent.

–With files from The Canadian Press and Jessica Patton

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