Vaccination status of Nova Scotia health-care workers still unknown

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia still doesn’t know how many health-care workers are fully vaccinated'
Nova Scotia still doesn’t know how many health-care workers are fully vaccinated
Proof of vaccination for health-care workers in Nova Scotia is required by Nov. 13. At this point, the province doesn’t know at this point how many of its nurses and doctors are fully vaccinated or not. Jesse Thomas has more – Oct 21, 2021

Health-care workers in Nova Scotia are five weeks away from the province’s proof-of-vaccination policy coming into effect, but the province still doesn’t know how many workers might be impacted or whether there’ll be a worker shortage.

“Not so far, we’re kind of waiting,” said Health and Wellness minister Michelle Thompson when asked if they’ve received vaccination status numbers. “We expect on (November) the 30th we’ll have a better sense of it, I’m sure there are people submitting their proof of vaccine now but I don’t have those numbers with me.”

Beginning Nov. 30, all health-care workers in Nova Scotia will have to show proof of vaccination, although there is a medical exception process.

Those who choose not to be vaccinated must take part in an education program before Nov. 30. After that date, they will be placed on unpaid administrative leave.

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As the deadline approaches, there’s growing concern about how the health-care system could be impacted if many workers end up being placed on leave.

During question period Thursday, Liberal leader Iain Rankin pressed the PC government on why they don’t have any statistics or numbers yet to indicate the vaccine status of health-care workers and called on the province to put a plan in place to ensure there won’t be any staffing challenges when the vaccine mandate takes effect.

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“Other provinces know and we’re five weeks away from that date,” said Rankin. “New Brunswick knows that they have 10 per cent of their workers that are not vaccinated, so to me, (the PCs) should know.”

Click to play video: 'Deadlines loom for Canadian health workers to get vaccinated'
Deadlines loom for Canadian health workers to get vaccinated

Premier Tim Houston said losing one health-care worker to a leave of absence because they aren’t fully vaccinated would be disappointing. He said he anticipates the percentage of fully vaccinated health-care professionals to be greater than the 77 per cent of Nova Scotians who are now fully vaccinated.

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“Vaccines matter and vaccines are important and so we need to make sure that we have vaccinated health-care workers,” said Houston.

The health minister said the vaccine mandate has spurred an increase in vaccine uptake but stresses that time is of the essence, and if health-care workers haven’t received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine yet, they risk being put on an unpaid leave of absence.

“It’s important to get (the vaccine) now,” said Thompson. “If you haven’t received your first dose of vaccine already and you are under the vaccine mandate, then there will most likely be a disruption in your work.”

Thompson said they have to be diligent around vaccines and the mandate, especially when it comes to dealing with the province’s health-care workers. Thompson referenced the COVID-19 outbreak currently underway at the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville, where a fifth patient in a non-COVID unit has tested positive.

“When our communities are vaccinated and our community is safe, our schools are safe, our hospitals are safe and our long-term care homes are safe,” said Thompson.

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The health minister said the interval between the first and second dose of the vaccine is 21-to-28 days between shots, depending on the vaccine received, then it takes 14 days after your second dose for a worker to be considered fully vaccinated.

“To minimize that (work) disruption it’s important for people to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Thompson.

Nova Scotia Health spokesperson Carla Adams said they launched a website for employees to update their vaccine status on Wednesday and anticipate they’ll have more staffing data to share by early November.

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