UPDATE: Area Hospital PR Worker Vaccinated; Local Unifor President Calls it Shameful

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The President of Unifor Local 2458 is outraged.

Tullio DiPonti is reacting to a social media post he saw Wednesday morning, that has since been deleted, from a public relations worker from Erie Shores Healthcare in Leamington, that shows the worker receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

DiPonti is wondering why a PR worker is receiving the vaccine before health care workers and residents of long term care and retirement homes.

"Whether you're in outbreak or not, there is staff out there that are not positive, those people should be vaccinated so at least you know that you're going to have a group of people that are vaccinated that can go to work and take care of these residents," says DiPonti.     

He says majority of his members who are dealing with patients have not received the vaccine.

"I know for a fact that in our local and most of the health care workers we represent are not vaccinated and that's shameful," says DiPonti.  "Whoever is making these decisions who gets the vaccine first need to look at and make sure they get their priority straight."      

He goes on to say it's shameful, whoever made the call to allow this vaccination to happen.

"Our members are out there, crying calling us, telling us when are we going to get vaccinated, we want to make sure that we're protected and then when you hear a PR person saying that he is proud that he received the COVID vaccine, it's shameful," says DiPonti. "The vaccine should be given to these COVID heroes.  The people that are out there in the work force that are taking care of these residents."         

According to provincial early vaccine doses guidelines, health care workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other health care personnel are eligible to receive the vaccine under the Ontario immunization program.

AM800 News reached out to Erie Shores Healthcare and was provided the following statement.

We understand that as a result of a posting by Arms Bumanlag, Director of Communications & Public Relations at Erie Shores HealthCare, on his personal Facebook page, questions have emerged regarding the manner in which the COVID-19 vaccine is being administered at the Hospital. 

Let us begin by assuring you that the Hospital is following all guidelines and directives provided by the provincial government in regards to its vaccine distribution implementation plan. 

As part of Phase 1 of the plan, all front line health care workers in the Hospital who have elected to receive the vaccine have received it.  We recently began making the vaccine available to our leadership team and other Hospital staff who enter the Hospital regularly and, because of the pandemic, have had to take on additional responsibilities and now have direct contact with patients and other front line employees that they might not have had previously in their positions at the Hospital.

As part of a community based hospital, our leadership team is also dealing directly with health care providers and administrators in long-term care and retirement homes, community agencies and with representatives of other businesses in the community including those in the agri-food sector, which, as you know, has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Erie Shores HealthCare, our values of compassion, respect, trust and accountability have always influenced how we make decision for our patients, staff and families and this has certainly not changed during the pandemic.

We are committed to ensuring that vaccinations continue to be administered in compliance with the Province of Ontario’s vaccine distribution implementation plan in a safe and efficient manner.

— Kristin Kennedy, CEO, Erie Shores Healthcare