Head of P.E.I. Seniors Homes says mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for staff 'could make a difference'

·2 min read
'We do have some staff who have some health issues that … prevent them from getting vaccinated,' P.E.I. Seniors Homes CEO Jason Lee says. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
'We do have some staff who have some health issues that … prevent them from getting vaccinated,' P.E.I. Seniors Homes CEO Jason Lee says. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

The head of a group operating three long-term care homes on P.E.I. says he would be in favour of a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for his staff.

Earlier this week, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said she was concerned about the lower number of fully vaccinated staff at some private and public long-term care homes, and didn't rule out a mandatory vaccination policy.

"I think it would make a difference," said Jason Lee, CEO of P.E.I. Seniors Homes.

"What I believe that would mean is increased restrictions on, or requirements on, the part of the unvaccinated staff," he said.

"They may need to be tested for COVID every shift or they may need to practise more infection control through enhanced use of PPE."

Lee said over 90 per cent of staff at the three homes he runs, Whisperwood Villa, the Garden Home, and Lady Slipper Villa, have received one or two doses of the vaccine.

"We do have some staff who have some health issues that … prevent them from getting vaccinated," he said.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

"We also have a number of young staff, predominantly a female staff … who are pregnant or maybe hoping to be. And that's been a factor as well."

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends people who are pregnant or breastfeeding get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but some people are still hesitant.

The current provincial directive is that if the vaccination rate at any long-term care home is under 85 per cent, all partially vaccinated and unvaccinated staff must be tested weekly for COVID-19.

During a health briefing Tuesday, Morrison said her office will work with long-term care homes to expand vaccine coverage.

"Some of it's just vaccine hesitancy and some of it is turnover of new staff," she said.

Lee said he shares Morrison's concerns.

"We've been working with the Chief Public Health Office for four months now, slowly and incrementally increasing the percentage of staff who are vaccinated," said Lee.

Lee said he has a meeting with the CPHO Monday to learn more about future plans for unvaccinated staff.

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