Sick Kids Hospital puts 147 staff on unpaid leave awaiting proof of full vax

98.2 per cent of the hospital's 8,258 staff are fully vaccinated, a spokesperson says.

The Toronto Sun 2 minute read October 21, 2021

Toronto’s world-renowned children’s hospital has put 147 workers on unpaid leave based on their vaccination status.

The Hospital for Sick Children announced the measure Thursday for medical, corporate and support staff alike who did not submit proof of full vaccination by the hospital’s deadline. Those placed on unpaid leave includes some staff working completely remotely.

The 147, according to hospital spokesperson Jessamine Luck, represent a small number of the hospital’s 8,258 staff members — 98.2 per cent of whom are fully vaccinated.

Said Luck, “Some staff members are continuing to submit their proof-of-vaccination documentation so we anticipate the number of staff on leaves of absence will decrease over the coming days.”

About 19.1 per cent of the 147 have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, she added.

“It is our hope that every staff member who is currently not fully vaccinated will become fully vaccinated at their earliest opportunity and return from leave.”

The absence of those on unpaid leave will not disrupt any element of patient care at the facility, she said.

Sick Kids, along with fellow pediatric facilities CHEO in Ottawa and Toronto’s Holland Bloorview, all announced in August that their vaccine mandates would not include the option for regular testing.

About 70 per cent of patients at all three hospitals are under age 12 and too young to be currently vaccinated themselves.

The University Health Network (UHN), which includes Toronto General and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, in August gave Oct. 8 as the deadline when unvaccinated employees would be placed on unpaid leave for two weeks. That unpaid leave becomes termination a few weeks later if their vaccination status does not change.

Some hospitals permit regular antigen testing for staff who are not vaccinated — though health-care leaders have been calling on Premier Doug Ford to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all health-care workers.

On Tuesday, the scientists who advise the premier advised mandating vaccines for all hospital workers. The Ontario Science Advisory Table, in a letter to the premier, said, “Data from Public Health Ontario demonstrate that a substantial number of COVID-19 cases originate inside hospitals.

“COVID-19 vaccines help to protect the people working in Ontario’s hospitals, as well as the unvaccinated and vulnerable patients more at risk of SARSCoV-2 infections and COVID-19 complications.

“Requiring that hospital workers be vaccinated is an evidence-based policy that protects Ontarians.”

lbraun@postmedia.com