Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and two other children’s hospitals in Ontario have mandated a COVID-19 vaccine policy for staff, volunteers, learners and contractors.
Joining SickKids is Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, which is also in Toronto, and Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa.
All three hospitals will go beyond the province’s directive to require anyone eligible to be vaccinated due to the majority of patients — at least 70 per cent — who are ineligible to be vaccinated. Currently, only those turning 12 before the end of 2021, and older, can get a shot.
An exception will be made for people with documented medical or human rights exemptions, officials said.
Earlier this week, the provincial government said those in high-risk settings, such as hospitals, would require health care workers to get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.
In addition to the children’s hospitals, other employers such as the City of Toronto and the TTC have issued similar directives that require mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.
“We are united in our belief that immunization against COVID-19 is an individual and societal responsibility. With these policies, we are adding an important and powerful layer of protection to prevent COVID-19 infections in patients, families and staff,” said Dr. Ronald Cohn, president and CEO of SickKids.
“Implementing vaccine mandate policies for our staff was not our first choice, nor was it an easy choice to make, but as health-care institutions dedicated to the health of children, we feel it is the right thing to do,” Cohn said.
Officials said those not in compliance after doing a vaccine education program, “all options will be considered to effectively enforce the policy.”
“Like all the policies and procedures each organization has implemented throughout the pandemic, the vaccine mandate policies are grounded in the latest scientific evidence, with the safety of patients, families and staff at the forefront,” officials added.
SickKids said the vaccine policy was made in consultation with the Ontario Medical Association, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario and the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as Ontario’s medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore.
“We recognize that some organizations, where a vast majority of patients are not currently eligible to be vaccinated, will need to go beyond the minimum standard set by our directive,” Moore said. “We support SickKids, CHEO, Holland Bloorview and others in taking these necessary measures to protect patient, family and staff safety.”