LHSC and St. Joseph’s Health Care London standing by vaccine mandates

Public Health nurse Jill Seara extracting doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the Mount Brydges Vaccination Clinic on Feb. 18, 2021. Sawyer Bogdan/Global News

The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Joseph’s Health Care London (SJHCL) are reinforcing their decisions to implement COVID-19 vaccine mandates, following contrary statements from the province.

On Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that unlike a provincial mandate requiring all long-term care home staff be vaccinated, a similar requirement for all hospital staff would not be made.

LHSC and SJHCL are among those that have already implemented vaccine mandates for staff, requiring them to be fully immunized against COVID-19.

Following Ford’s announcement, LHSC is reiterating its current policy, writing on Twitter that it will continue to enforce current vaccination requirements.

“Our position that mandatory vaccination is the right thing to do for our patients, our staff, and our community is well aligned with the recommendations by the Ontario Science Table and numerous professional and medical associations including the OHA, OMA, CMA, CNA and RNAO,” the tweet from LHSC read.

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“Vaccination ultimately adds another important layer of protection. It remains a key component of our ability to deliver on the promise we made to keep all those who come to us for care, safe.”

In a statement to Global News, SJHC had the same reaction, saying, “hospitals will remain autonomous in their respective COVID-19 vaccination policies.”

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“The organization will enforce its mandatory COVID-19 immunization policy effective Nov. 30 with the goal to achieve full vaccination of all who work at St. Joseph’s, with the exception of individuals with a medical contraindication,” the statement read.

“We feel strongly that this measure is vital to protect those we serve, our community and our health care system.”

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During Thursday’s COVID-19 media briefing, both London Mayor Ed Holder and Middlesex London Health Unit associate medical officer of health, Dr. Alex Summers, supported the two health agencies.

“I am not going to rationalize the provincial government’s decision to not mandate COVID-19 vaccine for hospital workers, they have to explain why that makes sense,” Holder said.

Summers added that the health unit remains supportive of vaccine policies.

“We continue to applaud the leadership of our hospital partners in ensuring their workplace and their care environments are safe and we thank them for their ongoing leadership in this area,” Summers said.

“When everyone is vaccinated, the risk of transmission goes down substantially.”

A vaccine mandate at LHSC has been in place since Oct. 22, and following the enforcement, 84 employees were fired after failing to meet the hospital network’s deadline.

According to the hospital network, 99 per cent of its staff were fully vaccinated when the policy was enforced.

LHSC also requires that all visitors be fully vaccinated except in some specific circumstances.

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— with files from Global News’ Andrew Graham

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