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Municipality rescinds mandatory vaccination policy

Council has rescinded its mandatory vaccination policy for County staff, council and volunteer firefighters as the province moves to end all provincial restrictions by April 27. Rapid testing at the H.J. McFarland Home continues.

Rescinding the policy mainly means the municipality will no longer require proof of vaccination status for employment. It will maintain other precautions such as the glass barriers between staff and the public, monitoring and screening if people get COVID-19. Many staff members have chosen to continue wearing masks.

In a report to council, Susan Thomas, manager of human resources and organization development, states the municipality achieved a 98 per cent compliance with second dose vaccination.

Four employees organization-wide did not meet the requirement. Two held positions where they were able to work remotely, or were subject to weekly rapid testing to work in the office, the other two were placed on unpaid leave in November as they were unable to work remotely as staff of HJ McFarland Memorial Home.

Thomas reports that since January 2022, the County has had 50 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases; 20 presumed cases based on symptoms and 100 high-risk contacts screen and assessed for risks to the workplace. More than 50 employees have had to isolate due to COVID-19 being in their household previous to March 9, 2022 when the province updated isolation guidelines.

Volunteer firefighters, identified separately from employees, were to have weekly Rapid Antigen Testing to be eligible to respond to emergency incidents and training.

Thomas states nine volunteer firefighters were tested weekly, four chose to test to attend specific training events and one chose to be placed on leave of absence pending further notice.

Thomas reported 98 per cent of the County-run HJ McFarland home staff has received a second dose; 98 per cent of residents has received a fourth dose and 98 per cent a third dose.

Current policy of daily rapid testing and Thomas notes its effectiveness, as several asymptomatic employees were identified and put on temporary isolation.

While the province has stated remaining restrictions will be lifted April 27, individual nursing homes have the ability to set more restrictive standards based on risk.

Neighbouring communities are also deciding whether to maintain or eliminate their policies.

Thomas reports Quinte West has rescinded its policy; Renfrew and Lanark counties rescinded their general policy but created a long-term care specific policy; Cornwall recommended a two-phase policy, identifying a pandemic and epidemic state for a one-year period. Peterborough, Loyalist Township, Lennox and Addington, Hastings County and Prescott Russell have maintained their current policy.

Filed Under: Local News

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