Our local Medical Officer of Health is backing the province’s mandate for staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in long-term care (LTC) facilities.

In his Wednesday update, Dr. Charles Gardner said LTC has been a “very vulnerable sector to outbreaks” and even now it’s possible to have outbreaks even with immunization. 

According to him, that’s one of the reasons why the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit proceeded with third dose provisions for the residents in those facilities. 

“Staff can be a means of bringing in COVID-19 in the facility and you can have a cluster among staff as well if you don’t have high vaccination coverage, so it’s important to get a very high vaccination coverage among staff,” Gardner said. 

Asked about the new policy possibly cutting down on workers in a sector already struggling with staff shortages, Gardner said he’s confident that in most instances facilities will get enough compliance to be able to avoid any undue operational hardship.

“Because I think most people at the end of the day will choose vaccination in order to be able to continue to work. Although time will tell, I believe in the end that will be the outcome,” he said.

Gardner said mandating vaccinations for an entire sector is “unique in history”, adding that officials will have to wait and see exactly how it all unfolds without the hind side of history to be able to draw on.

“I think we need to take one step at a time and see how things unfold. Right now we have direction that we’re following and I support it,” he added.