Doctors Manitoba recommends vaccine mandate in health-care sector, other workplaces

WINNIPEG — Doctors Manitoba is recommending a COVID-19 vaccine mandate across the province’s health-care sector, and is urging other employers to consider a similar policy.

Dr. Kristjan Thompson, president of Doctors Manitoba, said in a news release that considering the risk of COVID-19 compared to the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, “Requiring employee immunization is a necessary next step.”

“This must be a requirement in health-care, where it is all workers’ duty to protect the health of their patients,” Thompson said.

“Physicians also recommend other employers strongly consider this policy to keep their staff and the public safe. This not only includes public sector employers like schools, universities and correctional facilities, but also private sector employers in manufacturing, food production, service industries, and other higher-risk environments.”

The organization noted that any workplace that implements a vaccine requirement must include exceptions for people who can’t get vaccinated for “legitimate reasons.” It added that certain precautions need to be taken to reduce transmission to and from these exempted individuals, which could include frequent testing, use of personal protective equipment, and possible relocation so they are physically distanced from the public and other workers.

Thompson said Doctors Manitoba is making this recommendation now, due to the increased risk of a fourth wave. He noted that in other countries the fourth wave is being driven by the more transmissible Delta variant.

“It takes several weeks to get two doses and become fully immunized, so implementing this policy now will help to prepare us all for what is coming,” Thompson said.

Thompson noted that no one should be forced into any medical intervention, including getting the COVID-19 vaccine. However, he said, when someone’s choice risks the lives of others, “It should come with repercussions.”

“If you still have questions or concerns about getting the vaccine, physicians are here for you,” Thompson said.

“Please call your doctor to discuss your concerns or find a physician near you at Doctors Manitoba applauds those employers already taking steps to require and promote vaccination, as well as other precautions such as continued mask use.”

Doctors Manitoba has taken several steps to encourage the wider adoption of vaccines and other health precautions, including writing a letter to the health minister bringing up the issue of vaccine requirements in health-care, and calling for broader use of the immunization cards.

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