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Mandated vaccination policy, reopening pause among newly announced Ontario directives

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

DURHAM/KAWARTHA: The Ontario government announced a number of new measures aimed at protecting the public from COVID-19 on Tuesday, August 17th.

One of the directives put in place by the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s office makes it mandatory for hospitals, home and community care service providers, and ambulance services to have a COVID-19 vaccination policy in place for their employees and volunteers.

“Effective September 7th, the directive will require covered organizations to implement policies [which] require employees and others in these sectors to either provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 [or] provide a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated. In addition, covered organizations will be required to offer an educational session about the benefits and risks of COVID-19 vaccination,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore explained at a press conference.

An Ontario government press release adds, “individuals who do not provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 will be required to undertake regular antigen testing.”

The province is also going to start offering third doses of the vaccine to “those at highest risk.” The press release explains those eligible include transplant recipients, people who have hematological cancers, and residents of long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes.

“A third dose can provide an improved immune response for these individuals,” Dr. Moore said. “But it’s very focused and narrow in the eligibility criteria.”

Lastly, the province is pausing Ontario’s exit from the reopening framework, delaying a full return to normal. “We need to get vaccination policies in place and our vaccination rates up,” Dr. Moore stressed.

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