Sask. Health Authority estimates 1 in 5 eligible employees aren't fully vaccinated against COVID-19

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has announced its employees will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

During a news conference Friday afternoon, Dr. Kevin Wasko said roughly one in five SHA employees are not fully immunized against COVID-19.

"I think the reason that some health-care workers don't get vaccinated are the same reasons that other members of the community don't get vaccinated," Wasko, who is the SHA's physician executive for rural health, said during the virtual media availability.

"There is some apathy about it, there is some perception that they won't get sick, there's some uncertainty (about) the vaccine or fear," Wasko said.

"And then like other members of society there are some amongst us in the health-care system that have believed or bought into the myths or the misinformation out there about the vaccine or about COVID," Wasko said.

Wasko said the SHA's rough estimate of the number of unvaccinated employees includes both physicians and the wide variety of support staff working in the province's healthcare system.

The vaccine requirement will be phased in starting with a two-week period where staff and contracted workers will submit a declaration concerning their vaccination status.

SHA employees will be able to indicate if they are fully vaccinated or intend to be immunized.

Unvaccinated staff can also indicate if they plan to seek an accommodation or will opt for monitoring through attesting program.

Employees who don't fall into any of these categories would be subject to provisions outlined in their respective collective bargaining agreements or staff bylaws, Wasko said.

He said SHA staff who "have done their part" by getting immunized against COVID-19 are increasingly looking for assurance that their coworkers have done the same.

"We have seen transmission in the workplace where people have gotten sick from COVID at work. We want to reduce that and we certainly don't want healthcare workers to be infecting the general public," Wasko said.

He said because the SHA is the province's largest employer, planning and implementing the vaccine requirement is a "massive undertaking."