Proof of vaccination no longer required in N.S. hospitals for patients' primary supporters

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Family and other essential support visitors will no longer have to prove they are vaccinated to help patients in Nova Scotia hospitals. A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine in this file photo. (Communications Nova Scotia - image credit)
Family and other essential support visitors will no longer have to prove they are vaccinated to help patients in Nova Scotia hospitals. A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine in this file photo. (Communications Nova Scotia - image credit)

The vaccine mandate for family members and others who provide primary support and essential care for patients is being dropped at Nova Scotia hospitals.

The change happens Tuesday at the IWK and is effective immediately everywhere else. The change does not apply to general visitors.

"This change will allow more opportunities for family members/primary support persons/essential care partners to support patients in hospital where it is feasible and safe to do so within public health guidelines," Nova Scotia Health Authority spokesperson Brendan Elliott said in an email.

"Research shows the presence of a support person reduces complications and stress for everyone involved, increases continuity of care, and enhances the patient's overall experience of care."

Elliott said the health authority has prioritized the health, safety and wellness of patients and staff since the beginning of the pandemic.

Proof of vaccination requirements have been difficult for some patients and families, he said, and officials believe they're now in a position to make this change given the high level of vaccination rates in the province and other protective measures in place at health-care facilities.

Everyone entering a facility will continue to be required to wear a medical mask at all times. Screening for active symptoms of COVID-19 will continue and essential care partners must keep physical distance of two metres from patients at all times unless they are actively involved in feeding or personal care.

Jean-Claude Taliana/CBC/Radio-Canada
Jean-Claude Taliana/CBC/Radio-Canada

Support partners must go directly to the patient's room or designated visiting area and remain there for the duration of their visit. Hand hygiene will continue to be reinforced for everyone.

Elliott acknowledged the change would be welcomed by some people and cause concern for others.

"We remain committed to protecting the health and safety of patients and teams, while recognizing the important role that support people play in the physical, mental, and emotional health and healing of patients."

Earlier this week the province announced 21 new deaths related to COVID-19 and emergency room doctors say they're seeing a spike in unseasonal respiratory illnesses.

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