Healthcare workers are reacting to Quebec’s announcement that the COVID-19 vaccine will become mandatory for all medical personnel who come into contact with patients.
While medical workers agree that as many of them as possible should get the vaccine, they have concerns about the government’s approach.
Emergency medicine specialist Dr. Gilbert Boucher is among the 90 percent of Quebec health workers who have been vaccinated.
“I mean, I was exposed to COVID last night,” said the Montreal Heart Institute emergency room physician. “Doctors, we are close to 96 percent of those who have been vaccinated. Throughout the world of emergencies and the world of ICUs, most people are vaccinated because we have seen it every day. We see the lethal effects. “
Boucher, also president of the Quebec Association of Emergency Medicine Specialists, says he has tried to convince the reluctant 10 percent of unvaccinated healthcare workers every time he finds them.
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“You can strengthen the scientific basis of it, the benefit of it in recent months. I mean, if we were in this phase without the vaccine, it would be a complete disaster, “he explained.
Although explaining the scientific benefits doesn’t always work, Boucher is concerned about the government’s decision to make vaccination mandatory for healthcare workers.
“If you are forced to do something, it is the reflex of saying ‘no, I am not going to do it,'” he told Global News.
Prime Minister François Legault announced Tuesday that all medical personnel who come into contact with patients should receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He threatened to suspend people without pay if they did not comply.
“If there is anyone who should understand very well the importance of being twice vaccinated, it is health workers,” Legault said Wednesday.
However, some of the largest unions in the province have questions.
“Is it the correct way?” asks Eric Gingras, president of the CSQ union, which represents more than 3,000 nurses. He points to the glaring shortage of health workers and fears that mandatory vaccination could alienate people.
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“Every percentage that will leave the healthcare system is a big problem,” Gingras said.
CSN health union leader Jeff Begley also has questions.
“If there are people who have that, medically speaking, the vaccine is not something they should do, will they be exempt?” Begley asked.
Meanwhile, advocates for patients’ rights are in full agreement with the mandatory vaccination plan.
“Our organization supports mandatory vaccination for all employees of the Quebec health network,” said Pierre Blain, executive director of the Quebec Health Care Users. “I think it is a question of solidarity for all.”
Boucher, the ER doctor, agrees that the government’s strategy will only benefit patients.
“It’s really good for patients,” he said. He believes there is a strong possibility that other public workers, such as police officers and teachers, will soon be subject to the same requirement.
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Dr. Jorg Fritz, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at McGill University, believes that the government should have implemented mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers even earlier.
“It is the correct decision and it has been delayed a lot, in my point of view,” Fritz said. He believes the measure will help protect the vulnerable elderly in both nursing homes and hospitals.
Legault announced that there will be a parliamentary committee in the national assembly starting next week to discuss the idea of mandatory vaccines. Unions hope their concerns will be raised.
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