Businesses across the region are being asked to develop their own employee immunization strategies to help keep their workplaces as safe as possible from COVID-19.

Medical Officer of Health with the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, says she strongly recommends local employers institute new workplace vaccination policies, and is also encouraging everyone to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

“Supporting employees in getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to protect them from the risks of COVID-19, prevent outbreaks, and build confidence in the health and safety of your workplace, especially as the Delta variant circulates more quickly and dangerously,” said Young Hoon, in a prepared release.

“In addition, workplaces with high vaccination coverage benefit from continuity of work and reduced absenteeism. There are many benefits to having an immunized workforce.”

The NWHU provided a variety of tips to help develop an immunization strategy for a workplace, which include:

1. Scope – explain the purpose of the policy, the risk of COVID-19 transmission, who the policy applies to and what personal information can be collected.

2. Actions Required – state specific actions workers must stake, including providing proof of vaccination status or a medical exemption, and completing a vaccination education course if they choose not to get vaccinated.

3. Deadlines – specify when the actions must be taken by workers covered under the policy.

4. Supports Available – share how you will support staff to get vaccinated, including paid time off, transportation to and from clinics, on-site vaccination clinics or other accommodations.

5. Provisions for Unvaccinated Workers – list options for workers who do not get vaccinated during a COVID-19 outbreak, including redeployment or reassignment, alternate work arrangements or remote work.

6. Consequences of Not Complying – outline the potential consequences for workers who do not comply with the policy.

7. Privacy Considerations – state how you will protect workers’ vaccination information in accordance with applicable privacy legislation.

8. Staff Contact – provide contact details for the person staff should contact if they have questions about the policy or what is required of them.

9. Continued Adherence to COVID-19 Prevention Measures – employers must continue to implement all COVID-19 prevention measures for their sector outlined in provincial guidelines.

The full list of tips can be found HERE.

The NWHU stressed these recommendations are only encouraged and are voluntary, and are not legally enforceable under Ontario’s Reopening Act. However, workplace policies should adhere to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Ontario Human Rights Code and applicable privacy laws.