Lethbridge firefighters and EMS must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 31

Click to play video: 'Group of Alberta firefighters challenge AHS’ vaccine mandate' Group of Alberta firefighters challenge AHS’ vaccine mandate
The deadline is quickly approaching for Alberta Health Service employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Lethbridge firefighter-paramedics are also included in that group. Erik Bay tells us what the upcoming Oct. 31 deadline means for the city’s health-care and emergency sectors – Oct 14, 2021

Lethbridge firefighters are among the thousands of Alberta Health Services employees with an Oct. 31st deadline to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The AHS mandate includes all firefighters who double as EMS personnel, which is the case for every Lethbridge firefighter.

Read more: AHS threatened with constitutional challenge over COVID-19 vaccine mandate

A constitutional challenge was filed by a group of Alberta firefighters, contesting the mandatory vaccines.

Click to play video: 'Group of Alberta firefighters challenge AHS’ vaccine mandate' Group of Alberta firefighters challenge AHS’ vaccine mandate
Group of Alberta firefighters challenge AHS’ vaccine mandate – Oct 14, 2021

“We are already overstressed, overworked and stretched thin,” Edmonton firefighter Tim Moen, a spokesperson for the group Fight for the Frontline, said.

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The city of Lethbridge doesn’t provide vaccination numbers by department, but for all city staff – including fire and EMS – of the 79 per cent of employees who have their vaccination status, 97 per cent are fully immunized.

“As a corporate policy (and in the case of fire and EMS, a contract obligation with AHS), all staff must comply as per the terms of their employment with the city of Lethbridge,” a statement form the city reads.

“If they do not comply with the policy, there will be several actions that can be taken, up to and including dismissal.”

Read more: Protest held in Lethbridge against mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for front-line workers

Employees at the Chinook Regional Hospital must also have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the month.

A statement from AHS reads: “We are confident that the vast majority of our people will be immunized.”

AHS adds vaccination numbers are “fluctuating hourly” and it is hoping to have a better idea of how many employees are immunized within the week.

Read more: COVID-19 testing not an effective alternative to mandatory vaccines, experts say

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Moen says the potential loss of unvaccinated firefighters would be irreplaceable.

“These aren’t guys who are rookies on the floor. These are guys who have put in 20, 30 years.

“They’re officers and mentors,” Moen said.

“The amount of organizational and institutional knowledge and experience… that we’ll lose here is disproportionate to the percentage of people we’ll lose.”

Global News reached out to the union representing Lethbridge firefighters, but it declined to comment.

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