Alberta Conducts Rapid Tests at Health Sites Where COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Caused Staff Shortages | The Canadian News

Alberta Health Services is temporarily adding a negative COVID-19 test to its mandatory vaccination policy in some communities where the mandate would lead to staff and healthcare shortages for Albertans.

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“The Alberta government is directing AHS to temporarily introduce frequent and targeted COVID-19 tests as part of the organization’s COVID-19 Worker Immunization Policy,” a province news release stated.

“Only sites considered to be at significant risk of service interruptions as a result of staff shortages due to unvaccinated employees will be part of the testing program.”

At a news conference Monday, AHS Executive Director Dr. Verna Yiu said the temporary rapid test option would be available in a “small number of areas where lack of vaccination can affect patient care.”

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That means some 260 AHS employees are eligible for the trial option at about 16 workplaces across the province, he added.

That’s about 0.2 percent of the staff, Yiu said.

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“I have heard from many Albertans, especially in smaller communities, who are concerned that this policy will affect patient care,” said Health Minister Jason Copping.

“We fully support the AHS immunization policy and thank the tens of thousands of healthcare workers who have made the right decision to get vaccinated. This directive tries to protect patient care, mainly in rural areas, which will always be my top priority. “

A positive rapid test result will mean that the employee will not work until they receive a PCR test result.

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Any employee who chooses not to participate in the quick test option will be assigned unpaid leave. Any site that opts out of the trial option will be subject to review, Yiu said.

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The negative COVID-19 test test program begins on December 13.

The AHS immunization policy deadline will also be adjusted to December 13.

“We stand firm on our vaccine policy,” Yiu said.

He explained that healthcare workers have an ethical and professional responsibility to do everything possible to protect their patients and being vaccinated against COVID-19 is a strong way to do so.

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Any AHS employee who is not fully vaccinated by December 13 will be on leave without pay.

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To date, more than 96 percent of AHS full and part-time employees and 99.5 percent of physicians have been fully vaccinated, Yiu said.

Approximately 3,000 AHS staff members have either failed to provide proof of vaccination or have chosen to remain unvaccinated.

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