Simcoe Muskoka LTC staff must abide by new COVID-19 vaccine policies

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All long-term care homes in Simcoe Muskoka will have new COVID-19 vaccine policies for staff in place this summer.

The Ford government will require staff to prove they have been immunized, provide a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated or participate in an educational program about the vaccination benefits and risks of not being vaccinated.

Seniors' homes will have to track and report back to the government the progress of the new requirements, including overall staff immunization rates.

Provincial data Sunday shows that 89 per cent of long-term care home workers have received at least their first dose, and approximately 66 per cent are fully immunized.

The province announced the new rules for all 626 long-term care homes in Ontario would take effect July 1.

In a release, the government stated the mandatory COVID-19 immunization policies would encourage more staff to get the shots. "The likelihood of infections and outbreaks is reduced, which allows for additional easing of restrictions in homes and more opportunities for residents to enjoy activities that support their well-being and quality of life."

Ontario is the first province in Canada to make it mandatory for homes to have COVID-19 immunization policies for staff.

Two weeks ago, the province allowed outdoor visits to resume at long-term care homes.

With files from the Canadian Press