The Alberta Health Services (AHS) immunization policy will now allow proof of negative COVID-19 tests in some communities to protect high-quality health care for Albertans.
Alberta’s government is directing AHS to introduce, temporarily, frequent and targeted COVID-19 testing as part of the organization’s Immunization of Workers for COVID-19 Policy. Only sites considered at significant risk of service disruptions resulting from staffing shortages due to unimmunized employees will be part of the testing program.
Under AHS’ current policy, employees who chose not to be fully immunized and have not been granted an accommodation would be put on an unpaid leave of absence.
“I’ve heard from many Albertans, especially in smaller communities, who are worried this policy will impact patient care,” Jason Copping, Minister of Health said in a news release. “We fully support AHS’ immunization policy, and I appreciate the tens of thousands of health-care workers who have made the right choice to get vaccinated. This directive is about protecting patient care – primarily in rural areas – which will always be my top priority.”
The proof of negative COVID-19 testing program begins on Dec. 13. AHS’ immunization policy deadline will also be adjusted to Dec. 13 to accommodate the introduction of testing. The testing addition will be reviewed by March 2022.
To date, 96 per cent of AHS full-time and part-time employees and more than 99 per cent of physicians have submitted proof of immunization. Ninety-nine per cent of intensive care unit staff are fully immunized.
AHS will continue to evaluate its staffing needs and provide a full list of sites where testing is taking place by the Dec. 13 deadline.