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SMA wants all health care workers vaccinated for COVID

SMA wants all health care workers vaccinated for COVID
The SMA is asking the province to make COVID vaccinations mandatory for all health care workers.

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

When all of the people who work in health care in Saskatchewan are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the public will have increased confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, says the head of the SMA.

The Saskatchewan Medical Association, which represents doctors in Saskatchewan, issued a call on August 11, asking the province to require all health care workers to be vaccinated.

“It’s just one of those things things in terms of setting an example,” said Doctor Eben Strydom, a Melfort family physician and president of the SMA.

When staff are vaccinated, it tells the public that it is safe and a good decision to make, he explained.

There has been discussion for some time amongst some health groups that vaccination of health workers should be required, Strydom said.

With the arrival of the Delta variant in Saskatchewan, infections have gone up with 984 cases of that variant alone.

“The pandemic is not over. COVID-19 case numbers are rising in many jurisdictions, primarily among the unvaccinated,” Strydom said.

Last week, the Ontario Medical Association, the New Brunswick Medical Society, the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Nurses Association all voiced similar calls advocating for mandatory vaccination of all health workers.

Medical professionals are worried about the start of the fourth wave of the pandemic and its impact on the still unvaccinated population.

Workers are already tired and the time for hesitancy is passed, Strydom suggested.

According to the World Health Organization, 4.3 billion doses have been administered around the globe and have been proven to reduce the spread of the virus and almost eliminate serious illness in those have been vaccinated and then exposed to the virus.

“COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and effective, and they provide a sure path out of the pandemic,”  Strydom said. “Many health-care workers are drawn to their careers to care for their patients. They also have a professional obligation and responsibility to keep patients safe. With the highly contagious Delta variant circulating throughout the province, we need to do everything possible to ensure health-care workers are fully vaccinated, with two doses.”

Provisions can be made for health-care workers with medical exemptions, the SMA says, such as people with allergies to components of the vaccine or where the vaccine could be harmful to their health, or those who object on bona fide religious or conscientious objection grounds.

On August 11, Saskatchewan reported 81 new cases and 65 people hospitalized with the virus and Strydom said that doctors know what happens next as hospitalizations always lag new infections by a week or two.

The SMA is also worried about the loosening of public health restrictions, asking people to keep some of the distancing habits they have practiced since March 2020.

“Even though we are enjoying summer in Saskatchewan and reconnecting with family and friends, we need to be cautious,” said Strydom. “A fourth wave of COVID cases with the Delta variant has emerged elsewhere, and it looks like it is coming our way. We need to redouble our vigilance as our unvaccinated children return to school in three weeks.”

People are strongly being encourage to wear masks in indoor public spaces, especially when the location is not limited to vaccinated people.