Hospitals in Sarnia, Windsor, Essex and Chatham-Kent are updating vaccine policies, telling staff to get vaccinated or prepare to find a new job.
Hospital administrators said Friday they have not set a hard deadline but will give employees a chance to roll up their sleeves.
Everyone, including staff, contractors, students and volunteers will be required to provide proof of vaccinations or have regular testing. While the timing has yet to be confirmed, each hospital will announce a deadline for all who are impacted.
As of Sept. 7, 2021, Directive #6 will be implemented. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated will be required to complete a mandatory education module on the COVID-19 vaccine, unless a medical exemption can be provided or they are seeking the exemption under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
"If they don't get vaccinated, they will have a two week unpaid leave to hopefully reconsider," said David Musyj, CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital.
"If at the end of those two weeks they still are not started their employment will be terminated or their privileges as a member of our professional staff will be terminated."
The current vaccination rate is 94 per cent, but according Musyj the goal is get to 100 per cent.
All five Erie St. Clair hospitals will inact this policy, including Bluewater Health, Chatham Kent Health Alliance, Erie Shores HealthCare, Hôtel Dieu Grace Healthcare and Windsor Regional Hospital.
The decision was made after looking at the increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates, said Musyj.
"We can't talk the talk or walk the walk and indicate to the community the importance of getting vaccinated and how getting vaccinated will get us through this pandemic and this particular wave we are facing, without leading by example," he said.
A joint statement issued by the board and executive leaders of all five hospitals said the vast majority of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated.
This month, the active case count rose from 40 on Aug. 3 to more than 500, and the number of outbreaks and people hospitalized has grown as well.
Provincial government data show Windsor-Essex had the highest rate of COVID-19 infections in the province last week.