LHSC tells staff get your COVID-19 shot or risk getting fired

The London Health Sciences Centre is making vaccines mandatory for all staff, the hospital announced Tuesday.

The region's largest hospital employs nearly 15,000 people and is London's largest employer

The London Health Sciences Centre's Victoria Hospital and Children's Hospital in London, Ont., is making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for its 15,000 employees. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is making vaccines mandatory for all staff, the hospital announced Tuesday, while St. Joseph's Health Care London is taking a different approach with its employees.

Everyone working at LHSC, including doctors, staff, volunteers, students and those who are cross-appointed with other health care centres, has to be vaccinated with both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and have finished the 14-day waiting period, no later than Oct. 22. 

Staff who don't have their two shots by that day can be disciplined and fired, officials said.

"Our promise to every person who comes through our doors is to offer safe and compassionate care. With rising COVID-19 cases across the province and many of our patients among the most vulnerable, this covenant with you becomes even more fundamental," the hospital's interim CEO Dr. Jackie Schleifer Taylor, wrote in a statement to the community. 

"This autumn patients coming to LHSC can take comfort in the certain knowledge that their care team has been fully vaccinated. It is the right thing to do to protect us all." 

Almost 15,000 people work at the hospital, the region's largest employer. 

"Staff who aren't vaccinated by October 22 will face discipline up to, and including, termination. This aligns with what our peers are implementing. LHSC will not accept frequent testing as an alternative to vaccination past October 22, unless a staff member has an exemption.

Meantime, St. Joseph's Health Care, which includes Parkwood Institute, will require all newly hired employees and volunteers to be vaccinated. Existing employees who fail to provide proof of vaccination will be required to undergo antigen testing three times a week and complete an education course.

"This well-established practice, which has been in place at Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care and in the Veterans Care Program at Parkwood Institute, has increased the reporting rates of vaccination, enhanced knowledge about
vaccination, provided the necessary surveillance of unvaccinated workers, and minimized the opportunities for transmission by having those who test positive remain off work until they have a negative test," a statement detailing the hospital said. 

LHSC says it will NOT accept frequent testing as an alternative to vaccination but will consider medical and human rights exemptions. Exemptions based on preference will not be considered, officials said. 

Exempted staff will be required to do frequent testing.