Alberta Health Services is giving its staff another month to receive mandatory double COVID-19 vaccinations.
All of its employees, students, midwifery workers, volunteers and contractors will now have until Nov. 30 to prove they’re fully immunized, or face an unpaid leave of absence.
Currently, 94 per cent of the organization’s staff and 94 per cent of physicians, have submitted proof of full vaccination while 97 per cent of staff are completely immunized, AHS CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said Friday.
That number of fully-vaccinated falls to 90 per cent when the AHS’s casual employees – who have a 76 per cent full vaccination rate – are taken into account, said the organization.
On Oct. 19, AHS said 92 per cent of its workforce had received two COVID-19 shots.
Earlier this month, it was announced AHS staff must meet an Oct. 30 deadline for full immunization.
But on Friday, Yiu said staff busy with the intense responsibilities of fighting the pandemic and its ripple effects should be given more time to meet that obligation.
“We are extending the deadline to give all employees more time to submit their proof of vaccination and, if they haven’t yet, to get fully vaccinated,” Yiu said in a statement Friday.
“We’re providing more time so our workforce is as safe and robust as it can be.”
So far, 61 AHS staffers have resigned due to the requirement, including 31 in clinical positions and 11 registered nurses.
So far, 1,400 requests for medical or religious exemptions have been submitted and will be reviewed by AHS, said the statement.
That’s grown from 1,200 since Oct. 19.
“We would like to thank those staff members who have already submitted their proof of immunization, and strongly urge those who haven’t to do so as soon as possible,” said Yiu.
“At the end of the day, it’s about protecting patients, continuing care residents, and anyone in our care, as well as looking out for our staff. We have a responsibility to do that.”
Early last month, protests were held outside some Alberta hospitals with some of the demonstrators angered over the mandatory vaccination requirement.
Subsequently, the UCP government said it would crack down on anyone impeding health care workers at hospital sites.