Calgary paramedic speaking out against mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers

The COVID-19 pandemic is adding an extra level of stress to an already demanding job for paramedics in the province.

“The morale is very low, it has been since the pandemic started…I’m seeing more staff shortages that I have in my entire career,” said Gordon, whose worked as a paramedic for 12 years, the last four in Calgary.

CTV News agreed to not disclose Gordon’s last name because he says he’s worried about possible physical and online harassment from patients for speaking out against mandatory vaccines.

He said he believes this will get worse when Alberta Health Services mandates vaccines for all frontline healthcare workers by the end of October.

AHS said those who don’t comply may be placed on an unpaid leave of absence.

“November first is when I hope and pray for the public because when people are going to need an ambulance or need a doctor or need a nurse, there’s going to be far less of them because there’s going to be people that stand strong on getting a needle,” said Gordon.

Gordon has received both doses but said he has colleagues who don’t want to get vaccinated and said an employer shouldn’t force the decision.

“I’m not an anti-vaxxer, anti-masker, I’m a person that believes in choice and I believe we all have a decision we are allowed to make.”

AHS said the vast majority of healthcare workers are immunized, though it hasn’t been mandatory for employees to provide their immunization status.

AHS said those unable to because of medical reasons or a belief protected under the Alberta Human Rights Act will be reasonably accommodated.

Some doctors say COVID-19 vaccines are essential for healthcare workers.

“One of the things at least physicians swear to one another (is) to do no harm,” said intensive care physician, Dr. Darren Markland.

“We clearly know that during a pandemic spreading infections by not following the rules, specifically infection measure controls and being vaccinated, causes harm to our patients."

"Therefore I am morally obliged to do the right thing and get vaccinated especially when there’s proof behind it,” said Markland.

Markland said it’s especially important to stop the spread of preventable infections in hospitals which are caring for the frailest and immunosuppressed patients.