According to Alberta Health Services (AHS), AHS healthcare workers will no longer be required to be immunized for COVID-19 as a condition of employment. The rescinding of the immunization mandate also extends to new hires and students.
AHS stated that while vaccines continue to provide strong protection against serious illness, the decision to rescind the policy is the result of emerging evidence that the immunization required by the policy, which is one dose of an approved one-dose vaccine or two doses of an approved two-dose vaccine, has become less protective against infection. The COVID-19 vaccines available to date target the original strain of the virus and the virus has evolved since then.
Mauro Chies, Interim President and CEO said in a statement that AHS continues to recommend COVID-19 immunization, including all booster doses available.
"The safety of our patients and healthcare workers is of the utmost importance to AHS,” Chies said. "The immunization policy was implemented to protect patients, healthcare workers and the public at a time during the pandemic when the immunization required by the policy was still effective in preventing transmission and when it was needed most to help contain the spread of COVID-19. This was the right policy at the time and was based on the best evidence available to protect our staff and patients."
According to a press release by AHS, a number of important safety measures remain in place to limit the potential transmission of COVID-19 at AHS facilities.
"Our workforce continues to be required to stay home when sick, wear required personal protective equipment and practise hand hygiene."
The release states that the policy came into effect at a time when Delta was the dominant variant and the immunization required by the policy was highly effective in protecting the health and safety of workers, patients and the communities that AHS serves by limiting the spread of COVID-19.
"Current evidence reveals that immunization without boosters has limited effectiveness in reducing transmission of the Omicron variants currently circulating."
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