Workplace Vaccine Policies Strongly Recommended by Peterborough Public Health

Written by Comms Team, September 9, 2021

Online Toolkit Launched by PPH to Help Local Workplaces Develop Their Own Policies and Request On-site Vaccination Clinics

In an effort to save lives, reduce illness, and keep the economy strong, Peterborough Public Health (PPH) is formally recommending that all workplaces in the City and County of Peterborough develop (or enhance) their workplace policies to require all employees to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless otherwise medically exempt.

To support this effort, PPH launched a workplace toolkit today available at www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca. This online toolkit provides guidance on developing a workplace vaccination policy. It notes that workplace policies should explain its purpose, specific actions workers must take including providing proof of vaccination status or a medical exemption, and timelines. To access the toolkit directly, visit https://www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-workplace-vaccination/.

“The safer the public feels about attending your business, the more likely they will be to attend your business,” Dr. Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health said today to local employers. “Supporting your employees to get vaccinated is one way to both protect people and make them feel safer, and it is the best way to prevent outbreaks in workplace settings. I am strongly encouraging all workplaces to use these resources to develop a COVID-19 vaccine policy that will protect not just their workplace, but the community as a whole.”

Dr. Salvaterra noted that provincial labour laws require employers to use every reasonable precaution to protect the health and wellbeing of their employees. This includes workplace hazards posed by infectious diseases. Peterborough Public Health strongly recommend that workplace vaccination policies require at a minimum:

  • Workers to provide proof of their vaccination series approved by Health Canada or the World Health Organization. (All residents who have been vaccinated in Ontario, or who have provided proof of their vaccination to their local public health unit, are able to access proof of their vaccination through the provincial vaccination system.)
  • Unvaccinated employees to provide written proof of a medical reason from a physician or nurse practitioner that includes whether the reason is permanent or time-limited
  • Unvaccinated workers to complete a vaccination education course on the risks of being unvaccinated in the workplace
  • Employers should also identify how workers’ vaccination status information will be collected and protected in accordance with privacy legislation and explain the level of risk posed by COVID-19 in each unique workplace setting.
  • Additional workplace precautions recommended to help reduce virus spread include:
  • COVID-19 testing (Available at no cost to businesses through the Peterborough Chamber)
  • Strict adherence to physical distancing and other public health measures
  • Wearing personal protective equipment as needed/required
  • Ensuring that appropriate ventilation is in place

The online resources launched today will also allow businesses in the area served by Peterborough Public Health to apply to host an on-site vaccination clinic. Peterborough Public Health will follow-up with applicants to discuss eligibility for an onsite clinic.

“We applaud the workplaces and organizations that have already shown leadership in protecting their workplace with vaccine policies,” said Julie Ingram, Manager of Environmental Health. “If you are attending an event or visiting a business, please contact the organization directly to learn what their vaccine policies are; the number of places requiring patrons to be vaccinated before allowing admission is growing every day.”

COVID-19 case counts continue rise at an alarming rate, with provincial daily cases topping 800 on September 3. In a report published by Public Health Ontario, the rate of COVID-19 cases in unvaccinated individuals is consistently higher from December 14, 2020 to August 21, 2021, compared to fully vaccinated individuals. The highly-transmissible Delta variant, which remains prevalent in the Peterborough area, has had a devastating effect on other jurisdictions, prompting the government to pause the provincial plan to exit the Roadmap, leaving Ontario in Step 3 for the foreseeable future.

Locally, workplace outbreaks continue to occur, where staff who have not been vaccinated acquire COVID-19 and spread it to others who are unvaccinated. Workplaces with a high number of unvaccinated staff risk having to shut down in the event of an outbreak. Fully vaccinated staff however will only have to self-monitor, not self-isolate in the event of an exposure; self-isolation of staff could result in staffing shortages.

“The vaccine to protect against COVID-19 is safe and effective, and in combination with other public health measures, it remains our best chance to end this pandemic,” stated Dr. Salvaterra. “COVID-19 vaccines help save lives, reduce illness, and ensure that businesses remain open; we’ve come too far and sacrificed too much to allow this fourth wave to send us into another lockdown.”

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For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence

Communications Manager

705-743-1000, ext. 391