Manitoba

176 unvaccinated Manitoba health-care workers now on unpaid leave

The number of Manitoba health-care workers who are unvaccinated and have refused to undergo routine COVID-19 testing has grown to 176, four days after a requirement of vaccination or routine testing came into effect.

Number has grown from 30 on Monday, when requirement for immunization or COVID-19 testing came into effect

A nurse in the intensive care unit at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg pictured on Dec. 8, 2020. A total of 176 health-care workers have been placed on unpaid leave as of Thursday for refusing to undergo routine COVID-19 testing. (Mikaela MacKenzie/The Canadian Press)

The number of Manitoba health-care workers who are unvaccinated and have refused to undergo routine COVID-19 testing has grown to 176, four days after a requirement of vaccination or routine testing came into effect.

That number was 30 on Monday, when the sweeping mandate affecting health-care, education and other public employees came into force. Staff were told they had to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or agree to take COVID-19 tests every 48 hours, or they would be placed on unpaid leave.

The number has increased by 18 since Wednesday. Sixteen of the latest staff placed on leave are from the Southern Health Region, which accounts for a disproportionate number of health-care workers put on leave so far.

Of the total of 176 workers, 99 (56 per cent) are from Southern Health, according to Shared Health, the organization that co-ordinates health care in Manitoba.

Southern Health has the lowest vaccination rate of all five Manitoba health regions, at 67.5 per cent as of Thursday. Uptake rates in the next lowest region, Prairie Mountain, stand at 81.2 per cent.

There are 26 staff on leave in each of the Prairie Mountain and Interlake-Eastern health regions. Another 20 have been put on leave in the Winnipeg health region and two in the Northern Health Region.

Three staff at Shared Health are also on leave. No staff from CancerCare Manitoba have been put on leave.

The province has said "direct-care" workers — those who have direct contact with patients — are required to be vaccinated or submit to testing. That includes a wide range of health-care workers, ranging from doctors and nurses to health care aides to cleaning staff, according to provincial health orders.

The mandate applies to about 42,000 health-care staff. Of those, 37,264 had completed the vaccination disclosure process by Thursday, Shared Health says.

A total of 35,415 staff indicated they are fully vaccinated, though only 31,459 entries have been verified so far.

Another 1,849 disclosed they aren't fully vaccinated and would require testing.

Shared Health said there are a number of sites where workers filled out manual disclosure forms. Those are still in the process of being added to the totals.

The organization also said it is anticipating increased pressure on hospital resources soon due to a growing number of COVID-19 patients requiring critical care services, as well as the coming influenza season. Thirteen new COVID-19 patients have been admitted to intensive care units in the past week, said Shared Health.

As a result, and in an attempt to maintain non-COVID health-care services like non-elective and non-urgent surgeries and diagnostics, Shared Health says some stable patients may be moved in the coming days from acute facilities in Winnipeg to hospitals outside the city.

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