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City of Winnipeg expands vaccine mandate to all city staff

Click to play video: 'All City of Winnipeg employees must be fully vaccinated by Feb. 22' All City of Winnipeg employees must be fully vaccinated by Feb. 22
The City of Winnipeg is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine mandate to all employees – Dec 20, 2021

The City of Winnipeg is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine mandate to all city staff.

It already has an immunization requirement for about 5,500 front-line staff working with vulnerable people like children under 12. As of Monday, 97 per cent of them were fully vaccinated with 175 others undergoing frequent testing, the city said in a release.

So far, the city’s put 12 employees on unpaid leave for refusing to participate in the program.

The 4,900 employees falling under the latest expansion will need to have received their first vaccine dose by Jan. 11 and their second by Feb. 8 in order to be considered fully immunized by Feb. 22, the city said.

Read more: COVID-19: Eligible Manitobans struggle to find booster shots before the holidays

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“By requiring all of our employees to be fully immunized against COVID-19, we are doing everything we can to keep our employees safe and to protect the critical services they deliver to our residents,” the city’s CAO Michael Jack said in a release Monday.

As with the first round, staff who don’t provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or an accepted medical or religious exemption must be tested regularly and take online education on vaccines, Jack said. The city hasn’t terminated anyone yet, but those who don’t comply with the program will face unpaid leave, he said.

“We really have considered termination as a last resort tool,” Jack said. “It remains an option.”

“We’ve tried to remain flexible at every stage. We know — just like with the virus itself — everything has changed rather rapidly,” he said. “We may very well find ourselves at the point where we believe termination is the appropriate reaction.”

Read more: What masks work best against Omicron? Experts are divided, but most say ditch cloth masks

The city isn’t seeing any negative impacts on its services or programs based on the first round of vaccine mandate, Jack said. He said he thinks the city’s making gains on convincing people to get immunized, thanks to its online education tool and pro-vaccine messaging.

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With Omicron being more contagious than Delta, the city isn’t requiring booster doses just yet, Mayor Brian Bowman said. However, the city says it’s looking into providing safer masks for its front-line workers, including transit workers.

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg mandates COVID-19 vaccine for front-line city staff' Winnipeg mandates COVID-19 vaccine for front-line city staff
Winnipeg mandates COVID-19 vaccine for front-line city staff – Sep 14, 2021

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