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Vaccines should be mandatory for home care visits, says palliative care patient

COVID-19 vaccines should be mandatory for personal support workers who offer home care, says a woman from Sault Ste. Marie who is receiving palliative care.

Personal support workers who do home visits are not required to be fully vaccinated in Ontario

Diane Sims, originally from Sault Ste. Marie, has multiple sclerosis and is a palliative care patient. She says personal support workers who care for her in her home should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (Supplied by Diane Sims )

COVID-19 vaccines should be mandatory for personal support workers who offer home care, says a woman from Sault Ste. Marie who is receiving palliative care in Stratford, Ontario.

Diane Sims has multiple sclerosis and is a palliative care patient. She is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but because of her chronic conditions, she is immunocompromised.

COVID-19 vaccination is not currently mandatory for the personal support workers who visit her home to care for her.

"I'm not safe with the ones that are not vaccinated that have told me so, but I don't know about all of the rest," said Sims, who grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, but now lives Stratford.

She said her husband Dennis has taken on the tasks of cleaning, bathing and dressing her to ensure she is not exposed to COVID-19. 

Sims said she was chastised for asking her personal support workers whether or not they were vaccinated. 

"We decided to cancel the workers who have told us their opinions," she said. "And some of them include that it's an evil poison, it causes internal organs to boil, and of course, it has microchips and all the bits and pieces of other conspiracy theories."

Vaccine mandatory in long-term care homes

On Oct. 1 the province announced COVID-19 vaccinations would be mandatory for all staff, students and volunteers who work in long-term care homes, effective Nov. 15. Only valid medical exemptions would be accepted as a reason not to be vaccinated.

But those rules have not extended to personal support workers who do home visits.

In a statement to the CBC, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care said that groups that employ home care workers are required to have policies around vaccination. 

If workers do not provide proof of vaccination they must undergo regular antigen testing. 

But the ministry said it's up to individual employers to decide if they want to make vaccines mandatory. 

Sims said the same standards should apply to all personal support workers, whether they work in a long-term care facility, or visit patients' homes.

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