County may revoke COVID vaccination policy in homes

Pembroke – A recommendation is coming before Renfrew County council to revoke the COVID-19 vaccination policy for Bonnechere Manor and Miramichi Lodge.

“There is no evidence to support that individuals with current bivalent vaccinations are prevented from contracting and spreading COVID-19,” said Director of Long-Term Care Michael Blackmore to the Health Committee of the County of Renfrew last Wednesday.

The recommendation would need the approval of county council, scheduled to meet on March 1. If passed, the vaccination policy would be revoked in March.

The recommendation to the Health Committee was to revoke the policy which was brought in last year stating all staff, essential caregivers, students and volunteers needed to have at least three doses of the COVID vaccine and general visitors must have two doses. It had been brought in on March 28, 2022. Mr. Blackmore pointed out the third doses were given over a year ago to those who were mandated to have them.

“The greatest utility in maintaining current vaccination status is that of basically mitigating symptom severity, and I can report the majority of our residents and a significant portion of staff have received the most recent vaccination,” he said.

Infection control measures are present which exceed minimum requirements, including daily rapid tests, actively screening and mask wearing in the homes, he said.

“I think this is one the COVID related legacy issues,” noted Michael Donohue, the mayor of Admaston/Bromley and the chair of the Health Committee.

“It has become more and more clear in early 2022 that the connection between capacity to transmit based on vaccination status is much diminished,” he said.

“It was having an impact on both staffing and the ability of some caregivers to provide that essential care to their family and loved ones,” he noted.

“However, it is important to keep in mind though there is no question – zero – that the vaccination does dramatically reduce the severity of COVID infection,” he said.

The incidents of fatal infection are reduced in those who are vaccinated, he stressed.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader