MLA calls for Islanders to be guaranteed time off for vaccinations
Minister points to expanded role for pharmacies, which can offer evening hours
A Green MLA is asking the P.E.I. government to make sure Islanders who want to receive COVID-19 vaccines will have time off work available to do it.
Public clinics on Prince Edward Island are mostly open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the moment, with appointments booked weeks in advance in most cases.
That can make scheduling difficult for people with unpredictable work schedules, especially if their employment is precarious, Mermaid-Stratford MLA Michelle Beaton said during question period in the P.E.I. legislature Thursday.
Beaton pointed out that the province legislates up to three hours off work to allow Islanders to vote during provincial elections, and she said something similar should be considered for vaccinations so that people can arrange to protect themselves without any repercussions.
She added: "If we do not provide this leave, we need to bring the clinics to those that can't just leave work."
Health Minister Ernie Hudson said Health PEI staff are going to seniors homes to vaccinate workers and residents there.
I do encourage Islanders to get out and get vaccinated, and if there's barriers, to reach out to the appropriate officials.- Ernie Hudson
He also suggested pharmacies may be able to offer extended hours to serve people who can't take off time during the day for a vaccination appointment.
Islanders aged 55 and older can currently book an AstraZeneca vaccine appointment at one of 12 pharmacies across the province. Starting Monday, a number of pharmacies will also be booking appointments for the Moderna type of vaccine.
"I do encourage Islanders to get out and get vaccinated, and if there's barriers, to reach out to the appropriate officials," said Hudson.
P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office said on Thursday that nearly 50,000 Islanders have gotten their first shot of vaccine so far.