COVID-19: St. Joseph’s health care says 99% of staff are vaccinated as deadline passes

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The deadline for all staff at St. Joseph’s Health Care London to be fully vaccinated has come and gone, with the hospital firing 40 staff members who did not comply.

In October, the organization announced a COVID-19 immunization policy requiring all workers to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 30 or produce a medical exemption.

The organization says nearly all staff have gotten vaccinated, with 100 per cent of physicians and more than 99 per cent of staff getting vaccinated.

“The last 20 months have been extremely tough, and particularly tough on health care and those that work in health care. Our staff have done an incredible job over the last 20 months. They have stepped up to provide care to our community in times where there was fear and anxiety, and they showed up and did a phenomenal job,” said Roy Butler, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health Care London.

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Butler said while they are grateful to staff for stepping up during the pandemic, he stressed the need to be vaccinated to keep everyone safe.

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Of the 40 staff being let go, Butler said 19 provided direct care and 21 provided support care or worked in administrative areas.

None of the people terminated will get severance pay, Butler said.

Out of all staff, one doctor met the requirements for a medical exemption, while the other 40 did not and are being terminated.

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In anticipation of the potential loss in staff, Butler noted they have been working to hire more people to fill any openings over the last few months.

“We know (vaccines are) the most effective strategy against this virus, so we need to move forward with our mandatory vaccination policy.”

St. Joseph’s is not the first health-care organization to implement a vaccine policy, with London Health Sciences Centre also doing so.

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In the case of LHSC, 84 employees were fired after failing to meet the deadline of Oct. 22 to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The 84 employees made up less than one per cent of the 9,148 LHSC staff.

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