Aug. 11, 2021

SMA calls for mandatory vaccinations of all health-care workers

With the province experiencing a continued uptick of COVID-19 cases, the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) is adding its voice to a growing chorus of voices calling for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all health-care workers.

Today’s statement by the SMA echoes a similar call last week by the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Nurses Association, representing physicians and nurses in Canada. The Ontario Medical Association and the New Brunswick Medical Society, which represent physicians in those provinces, have also advocated for mandatory vaccinations of health-care workers, as have a growing number of organizations and individual physicians and public health leaders across the country. These calls are aimed at stunting an anticipated fourth wave of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and effective, and they provide a sure path out of the pandemic,” said SMA president Dr. Eben Strydom. “Many health-care workers are drawn to their careers to care for their patients. They also have a professional obligation and responsibility to keep patients safe. With the highly contagious Delta variant circulating throughout the province, we need to do everything possible to ensure health-care workers are fully vaccinated, with two doses.”

Saskatchewan’s physicians are asking the government to mandate vaccinations of all health-care workers as an added measure to precautions taken to date for the safety of their patients, colleagues and selves, and to safeguard the capacity of a very tired health care system.

“The pandemic is not over. COVID-19 case numbers are rising in many jurisdictions, primarily among the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Strydom, a family physician practising in Melfort. “Physicians urge all Saskatchewan residents to become fully vaccinated. For workers in health-care facilities, that means receiving your two shots to fulfil your duty to care to your patients.”

Provision should be made for health-care workers with medical exemptions, such as people with allergies to components of the vaccine or where the vaccine could be harmful to their health, or those who object on bona fide religious or conscientious objection grounds.

SMA urges continued use of demonstrated, effective public health practices

Saskatchewan’s physicians are also concerned about the loosening of restrictions and urge people to continue to practise the effective public health measures they have been doing during the pandemic.

“Even though we are enjoying summer in Saskatchewan and reconnecting with family and friends, we need to be cautious,” said Dr. Strydom. “A fourth wave of COVID cases with the Delta variant has emerged elsewhere, and it looks like it is coming our way. We need to redouble our vigilance as our unvaccinated children return to school in three weeks.”

The SMA is strongly encouraging people to:

  • Wear masks in indoor public spaces, especially in locations that are not limited to vaccinated people.
  • Practise regular hand-washing and hygiene.
  • Maintain physical distancing when possible.
  • Stay home and get tested for COVID-19 when sick.

Many health-care workers are drawn to their careers to care for their patients. They also have a professional obligation and responsibility to keep patients safe. With the highly contagious Delta variant circulating throughout the province, we need to do everything possible to ensure health-care workers are fully vaccinated, with two doses.

Dr. Eben Strydom

President, Saskatchewan Medical Association

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