HALIFAX — Public sector workers in Nova Scotia are getting eight more weeks to show proof of vaccination after the province decided to extend its Nov. 30 deadline.
Officials said Wednesday that the province's 11,000 civil servants were informed last week that any worker who is partially vaccinated by Nov. 15 and who intends to get a second dose will get the extension and won't be placed on unpaid administrative leave.
However, employees with a single dose of vaccine may be subject to temporary health and safety measures before they are fully vaccinated.
The extension of the vaccination deadline also applies to thousands of other workers in the health and education sectors.
"This mandate was in no way intended to penalize people," Health Minister Michelle Thompson told reporters. "If there are folks who previously hadn't considered vaccination who have gotten the knowledge needed in order to do that, we want to work with them to keep them in the workforce."
Thompson said the workers have 70 days after their first dose to get a second shot — an interval that accounts for the eight weeks that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends between doses and the 14 days needed to develop full immunity.
"As long as we know they have signalled or scheduled a date for their second vaccination, they will be able to continue to work," she said.
The government hasn't released data on how many public sector workers risk being placed on leave for not getting vaccinated. Thompson said the information should be available by the end of the week.
Nevertheless, the minister said she was confident there would be minimal impact to the health system in the event some employees are placed on unpaid leave. "I am confident that people have done the right thing," Thompson said.
According to the latest provincial data released Wednesday 83.3 per cent of the province's population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 78.7 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Officials also reported 38 new cases of novel coronavirus. Nineteen were identified in the Halifax area, while there were 14 in the province's western zone, four in the northern zone and one in the eastern zone.
Officials said they were investigating the new cases to determine "the circumstances around the increased numbers." With 19 reported recoveries, officials reported a total of 180 active infections. Of those, eight people are in hospital.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2021.
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press