Mandatory vaccines for New Brunswick health-care workers take effect Sept. 7, the same as for civil servants, according to an internal Horizon memo obtained by CBC News.
Health-care workers will have until Sept. 13 to provide proof they are fully vaccinated, Erin Arsenault, acting chief human resource officer, said in the memo Monday to all physicians and staff.
After that, they will have to be tested for COVID-19 regularly.
They will also have to continue to wear a mask and the appropriate personal protective equipment in the workplace at all times, except when they’re alone in an office or eating a meal, she said. All health-care workers are required to wear a mask in the workplace, regardless of their vaccination status.
“Instances where a health-care worker who has not provided proof of full vaccination does not comply with either the masking or testing requirements will be subject to the disciplinary process, up to and including dismissal,” wrote Arsenault.
The mandatory vaccine policy was announced for all provincial government employees on Aug. 19.
Last week, the first details of the policy for about 11,000 civil servants became public through an internal email sent by the head of the public service.
The province employs roughly 18,500 health-care workers, according to the 2020 Government of New Brunswick Workforce Profile.
Health-care employees hired on or after Sept. 7 will have 45 calendar days to provide proof of full vaccination or else they will be terminated, she advised.
In the meantime, they must follow the masking and testing requirements.
Health-care workers who provide a certificate of a medical exemption to the vaccine will also need to follow the masking and testing requirements.
This includes “point of care” testing three times a week. Horizon will provide kits to health-care workers so they can do the tests at home. A smartphone/tablet application will soon be made available to allow health-care workers to share their results, the memo says.
Health-care workers will also have to register and complete a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test once a month, starting the week of Oct. 3.
If health-care workers get a positive point of care test or have two or more symptoms, they must schedule a PCR test immediately and not attend work until they get a negative result. They may work from home if they are equipped to do so and feel well enough, according to the memo.
In the event of an outbreak in a workplace, these testing requirements may be temporarily modified to include fully vaccinated health-care workers, for example, based on Public Health guidance, Arsenault advises.
Volunteers and suppliers asked to follow same rules
Horizon asks any volunteers or apprentices to follow the same requirements.
Facilities management at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and Service New Brunswick technology services will inform suppliers whose staff regularly work alongside health-care workers of the vaccination/masking and testing requirements, according to the memo.
The regional health authority will inform any other suppliers that work in its facilities.
“The overwhelming majority of new infections are among the unvaccinated, and children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccines,” wrote Arsenault. “Please take responsibility to protect yourself and others, especially our children.
“The policy, developed in consultation with Public Health, contributes to our fight against the virus and unites us in our common mission to ensure the wellbeing of all New Brunswickers.”
Support to access electronic immunization record
To help employees create a MyHealthNB account to access their electronic COVID-19 immunization record, Horizon had registration staff on site at several locations Monday and will again on Wednesday, according to another internal memo.
Employees can drop by with no appointment necessary and be registered to receive their registration code for a MyHealthNB account, Marilyn Babineau, the manager of workforce wellness, advises.
The locations include: the Moncton Hospital, the Saint John Regional Hospital, the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, the Upper River Valley Hospital and the Miramichi Regional Hospital.
For employees working at other health-care centres, virtual phone appointments can be booked, the memo says.