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COVID-19: KHSC says indefinite unpaid leave in store for unvaccinated staff

As the deadline looms for final proof of first-dose vaccinations, Kingston Health Sciences threatens permanent unpaid leave for those who continue to shirk its vaccine policy. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

A two-week period of unpaid leave for Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) staff who have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is coming to an end Wednesday.

As of Monday, the hospital organization said a little over 60 people have still not provided proof of a first dose.

KHSC previously threatened punitive action, including termination, for those who continued to refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Read more: 136 KHSC staff placed on unpaid leave for not complying to vaccine mandate

Monday, it confirmed that the remaining 63 individuals who have not provided proof of vaccine will be placed on indefinite unpaid leave while hospital top brass decides on next steps.

KHSC introduced a proof of vaccine policy for all of its staff at Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu in early September. Staff members were given until Sept. 21 to provide proof of receiving a first dose.

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When that deadline hit, 136 workers were put on unpaid leave for a maximum of two weeks for failing to provide proof of vaccination or a valid medical exemption. KHSC said the two-week period was meant to give those who had not found the time or who were sitting on the fence the time to make a final decision on whether to get vaccinated or not.

Within a week, 57 staff members provided proof of vaccination and were able to get back to work.

As of Monday, a total of 73 people from that original list of 136 have provided proof of vaccination. For a previous story, KHSC said the remaining staff members were mostly a mix of nurses, allied health-care staff and non-clinical staff.

KHSC maintains that vaccines are the best strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and said Monday it will remain firm on enforcing the vaccination policy.

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Of its more than 5,900 employees, KHSC says 99 per cent of its staff are fully or partially vaccinated.

— with files from Global News’ Alexandra Mazur

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