RNAO welcomes continuing public health restrictions and mandated vaccination for health care workers: More to be done to protect our children and the economy nurses say

RNAO welcomes the news that the Ontario government will mandate vaccines for hospital, long-term care (LTC) and homecare workers, give booster shots to the vulnerable, and halt further reopening. RNAO calls for further urgent action and urges the premier, minister of health, other cabinet ministers, and Ontario’s chief medical officer of health to move quickly and save lives.

The exponential growth of new infections is alarming. Ontario’s seven-day average on August 15 stood at 440. That number last week was 261, and a week before that, the average was 189. Of yesterday’s 511 cases, more than 80% of new cases occurred in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals. The protection afforded by full vaccination is even more striking when considering hospitalization due to COVID-19 (only 12.9% are fully vaccinated) or in ICU (only 1.7% are fully vaccinated). The raging fourth wave is driven primarily by the unvaccinated and the partially vaccinated.

RNAO says the government’s top priority should be to:

  • Expand mandatory vaccination to all health care workers in all health care settings*
  • Implement mandatory vaccination for all teachers and educators in all education settings from daycare all the way to universities*
  • Implement indoor masking in daycare, kindergarten and schools from 2 years old and up*
  • Implement vaccine passports/certificates, mandate their use for access to risky indoor non-essential services – such as indoor concerts, sports events, restaurants, bars and gyms – and adopt a public health framework that protects businesses implementing those measures*

*Unless medical exemption for which accommodation shall be provided through proof of recent testing (48 hours).

RNAO says infection trends in recent days require the need for swift action and a shift in addressing a fourth wave driven by a dangerous variant (see the next article on the Delta variant). The current measures are insufficient and new measures such as those listed above, and those included in RNAO’s call for safe reopening of schools, are urgently required. (See further below an article on the Delta variant, kids and schools).