In a bid to keep their employees healthy and the business operating, some Ontario employers are offering on-site COVID-19 vaccinations. Enabling employees to be vaccinated quickly, at minimal loss of work or family time, could reduce the risk of an outbreak and any spill-over effects in the community.
The province has already begun working with public health units, business groups and large employers to launch employer-operated workplace vaccination clinics. Other initiatives include mass immunization clinics, mobile teams and pop-up clinics.
How would I know if my workplace is eligible?
Your workplace may be eligible if
- it's located within an identified hot-spot community, there is a risk of an outbreak, or an outbreak has already occurred
- employees can't work at home and may reside in a hot spot
- the employer assumes responsibility for setting up, operating and funding the on-site vaccination clinic, as well as sponsored off-site community clinic(s)
- the employer will also vaccinate people in your community, either on-site or at another location
- the on-site clinic has the support of the local public health unit and hospital
- the clinic space is large enough to maintain social distancing through the entire process, from screening to post-vaccination observation
- vaccines are available
What if my workplace is not eligible for on-site vaccinations?
Many workplaces may not meet the criteria listed above or benefit from an on-site vaccination program, says Wagish Yajaman, WSPS' Manager, Specialty Services. "For instance, workplaces that have followed COVID-19 precautions, avoided outbreaks, and are not located in a hot zone may have little need for an on-site program." This may be particularly true for workplaces where employees
- frequently move from one job site to the next
- have highly variable work schedules
- have easy access to community vaccination sites
Regardless of eligibility, Wagish recommends that all workplaces
- remain vigilant in minimizing the risk of workplace transmission, read - 4 reasons to remain vigilant as vaccinations begin. Uncertainty remains over how effective the current vaccines are against existing and future variants of the virus, and how long vaccinations will be effective. "What this means," says Wagish, "is we can't let our guard down."
- develop and communicate a vaccination policy that is consistent with existing policies and reflects your organizational values. Possible contents include the nature of the vaccine, why it’s important to employee health and the workplace, sources of additional information, and reasonable grounds for declining to be vaccinated (e.g. risk of adverse reactions due to allergies, or religious belief, practice or observance)
- reinforce the importance of vaccinations. Update employees on vaccination availability, and changes in our understanding of risk. To counter misinformation, direct employees to reliable, up-to-date sources of information.
- encourage employees to act on any opportunity to be vaccinated. Check your local public health unit for updates on who's eligible for vaccination and how to register.
- explore with your public health unit the possibility of vaccinating groups of your employees at public vaccination locations.
Learn more about on-site vaccinations
- Ontario's COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy Targets High-Risk Neighbourhoods
- The facts about COVID-19 vaccines (Government of Canada)
- CDC guidance for temporary vaccination clinics (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Guidance for Planning Vaccination Clinics Held at Satellite, Temporary, or Off-Site Locations (CDC)
- Checklist of Best Practices for Vaccination Clinics Held at Satellite, Temporary, or Off-Site Locations (Influenza Work Group of the U.S. National Adult and Influenza Immunization Summit)
The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date.