Nova Scotia

Woman urges nursing home staff to get COVID-19 vaccine after father tests positive

Christal MacKinnon's father is a resident at East Cumberland Lodge long-term care home in Pugwash, N.S.

Christal MacKinnon's father is a resident at East Cumberland Lodge, where there's been an outbreak of COVID

Christal MacKinnon's father lives at the East Cumberland Lodge in Pugwash, N.S. She says all health-care workers should be vaccinated against COVID-19. (CBC)

A Calgary woman whose father has tested positive for COVID-19 at a long-term care home in Pugwash, N.S., is urging all health-care workers to get vaccinated.

Christal MacKinnon's father lives at the East Cumberland Lodge, where an outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in 17 other residents and two staff members testing positive.

Nova Scotia Health has confirmed a health-care worker brought COVID-19 into the facility, but it has not disclosed their vaccination status.

"It's very unnerving to hear that there are health-care workers in the facility who may or may not be vaccinated," MacKinnon said Tuesday.

Like all residents at the long-term care home, MacKinnon's father is fully vaccinated.

But the same cannot be said for staff.

Vaccine requirement coming into effect

Barbara Adams, Nova Scotia's minister of seniors and long-term care, told a news conference Monday there are 116 staff members at the long-term care home. That leaves approximately five staff members who have either not been fully vaccinated or have not reported their status. 

Vaccinations for all health-care workers in the province will be required by Nov. 30 — a deadline MacKinnon said is "too little, too late."

"Quite honestly, I believe that across the country, if you're a close-contact health-care worker, you should have been vaccinated," she said.

"I'm just getting tired of hearing about people complain about their right to choose instead of making the right choice — which is get vaccinated for the good of the country and the good of your fellow human beings."

'Double standard'

MacKinnon said she had to follow "some pretty strict guidelines" just to visit Nova Scotia, including being double vaccinated, completing a PCR test and filling out a safe check-in form required by the province.

"My mom, who goes to see my dad in the facility, she has to prove her vaccination," she said. "So I believe there's a bit of a double standard there."

Nova Scotia's deputy chief medical officer of health told reporters Monday breakthrough cases among vaccinated people are "not unexpected." She said booster doses for long-term care residents across the province are crucial.

"Older people have increased risk of waning or decreased protection over time," said Dr. Shelley Deeks.

Nova Scotia Health said no one at the facility has had a booster shot. The program was supposed to roll out this week, but it was postponed because of the outbreak.

The provincial government has said the outbreak at East Cumberland Lodge is related to a faith-based gathering.

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With files from Kayla Hounsell

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