THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta Health Services implementing immunization policy for staff

Alberta Health Services implementing immunization policy for staff

Alberta Health Services (AHS) will require all employees and contracted healthcare providers – including physicians and other frontline healthcare workers to be fully immunized for COVID-19, by Oct. 31.

This necessary step is required to protect patients, vulnerable and immuno-compromised Albertans, and anyone who visits or works at any AHS site, including healthcare facilities.

The new policy will apply to all Alberta Health Services, Alberta Precision Labs, Carewest, CapitalCare and Covenant Health employees, members of the medical and midwifery staffs, students, and volunteers, and other persons acting on their behalf.

Contracted continuing care providers as well as all contracted healthcare workers acting on behalf of AHS are included.

Additional details respecting the specific compliance requirements for other contracted service providers, such as continuing care, will be communicated directly to those contracted service providers.

The latest an employee could receive their second dose to be in compliance with the new policy is Oct. 16, 2021, which allows for the two weeks that must pass to be considered fully immunized.

“This is an extraordinary but necessary measure to help protect our vital frontline healthcare teams and help us maintain a safe environment for all patients and clients” said Dr. Verna Yiu, President and CEO of Alberta Health Services.

“Over the last year and a half, our teams have continued to provide incredible care to anyone who needs it, under extremely trying circumstances. We are grateful for their efforts and are committed to ensuring the safety of our facilities.”

Immunization against COVID-19 is the most effective means to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to prevent outbreaks in AHS facilities, to preserve workforce capacity to support the healthcare system, and to protect our workers, patients, visitors and others accessing AHS facilities.

This policy strengthens work AHS has done throughout the pandemic to keep hospitals and healthcare facilities safe, including mandatory use of PPE, daily symptom checks for all healthcare staff, visitor restrictions, Infection Prevention Control measures, and ongoing staff education.

Evidence confirms that being fully immunized mitigates potential harm to patients and healthcare workers. Healthcare workers have an ethical and professional responsibility to protect others. Vaccination is a tool to assist in meeting this standard.

Any AHS employee who is unable to be immunized due to a medical reason or for another protected ground under the Alberta Human Rights Act will be reasonably accommodated. The policy document will be finalized following a period of union and stakeholder consultation.

COVID-19 immunization appointments on or before Sept. 6 can be booked through ahs.ca/vaccine. Appointments can also be booked through the Government of Alberta’s new Alberta Vaccine Booking System, which now includes bookings at pharmacies.