Modified recommendations on workplace COVID-19 vaccination policies
The arc of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, provincial and local epidemiological indicators and the tremendous efforts Grey-Bruce communities and partners have invested in the response to the emergency locally all suggest we have reached the point where exceptional policy response should be phased out.
As such, we are modifying our recommendations to employers in Grey-Bruce related to vaccine policies, indicating the changing dynamics and noting the following:
- These recommendations were made in response to the Delta wave, when two-dose vaccination was much more effective against disease acquisition and transmission. With the Omicron wave, a third dose would be necessary to achieve some degree of protection against disease acquisition and transmission.
- Disease transmission is still high, but is steadily decreasing, at least at this time. As the transmission decreases, the rationale for requiring (as opposed to encouraging) vaccination (especially two doses only) in non-high risk settings (excluding health care and congregate living settings from this discussion) also declines.
- With the province’s removal of proof of vaccination requirements for patrons in non-essential service settings as of Mar. 1, there would be incongruity for workplace policies in such settings continuing to require two-dose vaccination. Also, as the chief medical officer of health for Ontario, Dr. Moore, recently indicated, the province is considering ending vaccination directives for high-risk settings, further lessening the rationale for such universal policies in non-high risk settings.
- For non-high risk settings, it would be helpful to continue to encourage and support vaccination (moving to a third dose as being desirable), but that we would not be continuing to recommend that all workplaces universally have a vaccination policy at this time.
- It is important to note that in making their decision, workplaces should consider their risk of transmission and medical vulnerability of employees/clients, and also that they be aware that circumstances may change and, as such, our recommendations may also change (such as with a significant resurgence of the Omicron wave, or with a new VOC).
- It’s important for employers to consult their legal counsel on composing their own policies. The Grey Bruce Health Unit does not provide legal opinion.
Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health and CEO
Grey Bruce Public Health Unit