With deadline approaching, many N.B. public servants are still not vaccinated
Public servants are under deadlines to become fully-vaccinated and stand to be sent home without pay, if they don't. In New Brunswick, the deadline is Nov. 19, and quite a few public servants have not been vaccinated.
As the clock ticks closer to Nov. 19, the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes is preparing for a staffing shortage.
"The long and short of it is, if we don't have enough employees, then we'd have to close beds and that is the absolute worst thing I think that we could do to serve the seniors of new Brunswick," said Michael Keating, the association's interim executive director.
The province announced the full vaccination requirement for all provincial employees on Oct. 5, including those working in the health-care system, education system, long-term care homes, and more.
Anyone who cannot provide proof of their double dose status by Nov. 19 will face unpaid leave.
With a required 28-day waiting period between doses, Friday marks the final day for those who fall under the mandate to get their first shot and be fully vaccinated by the deadline.
"It is disturbing that we even have to go through this at this point, that we don't have all of them vaccinated," said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.
There are about 13,000 people employed within long-term care homes in New Brunswick. A spokesperson for the Department of Social Development says 86 per cent of them are fully vaccinated.
But for those who have yet to get their shot, Keating remains optimistic.
"We hope that these people will change their minds," Keating said. "But, if people keep holding out, we have to provide care and those jobs would have to be put out to market."
The two health authorities in the province are also reporting lower-than-expected vaccination rates.
Horizon Health, which employs approximately 13,000 people, is reporting 85.86 per cent of their staff are fully vaccinated, while 87.51 per cent have received their first dose.
Vitalite Health Network employs roughly 7,500, not counting 560 doctors, and 83 per cent of their staff have both shots, while 87 per cent have only one.
"We have seen a significant uptake in the vaccination levels which is encouraging, it is still a challenge however," Higgs said. "We are working with the health authorities and the CEOs because it's particularly a concern within the health care sector."
A spokesperson for Vitalite says two employees have asked for an exemption to the mandate which are now under review. As of Thursday morning, no exemptions have been approved within Horizon.