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COVID-19 Vaccines: What They Mean for Employers
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This document provides guidance to employers about COVID-19 vaccinations.
For general COVID-19 prevention practices, refer to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) COVID-19 resources:
Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19,
COVID-19 Health and Safety Planning for Employers, and
COVID-19 Prevention for Workers.
Additional guidance about vaccines can be found in the CCOHS COVID-19 tip sheet COVID-19 Vaccines.
Employers need to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of their workers. Follow guidance from your local public health authority and jurisdictional health and safety regulator on public health measures, including personal preventive practices such as mask wearing and physical distancing.
One important measure to help reduce COVID-19 transmission is vaccination. Currently, COVID-19 vaccines are offered on a voluntary basis to anyone in Canada who is 6 months and older.
There are several vaccines approved for use in Canada. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will help most people develop an immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, making future COVID-19 infections less severe. Most COVID-19 primary series vaccines require a two dose schedule to be received at the recommended interval according to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) . Public health authorities recommend keeping COVID-19 vaccinations current by receiving booster doses.
For additional information on vaccines refer to the Vaccines for COVID-19 website (Government of Canada).
All COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada are effective at lowering the risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Approved COVID-19 vaccines can also reduce the likelihood of developing post COVID-19 condition (also known as long COVID).
Considerations for Employers
- Review current policies and determine whether to implement a COVID-19 vaccination policy for the workplace. Involve stakeholders including human resources, health and safety committee or health and safety representative, and the union (if applicable).
- If considering making vaccinations mandatory, can it be shown that a COVID-19 vaccination is a bona fide occupational requirement? Seek legal advice and consider other issues (e.g., medical reasons for not getting vaccinated), if necessary.
- Regardless of vaccination status, workers should continue to follow local public health measures while at work, if applicable.
- Discuss the benefits of vaccination with your workers.
- Provide reputable resources about vaccinations to workers such as Ask the experts COVID-19 vaccines questions (Health Canada), Vaccines for COVID-19 (Public Health Agency of Canada), and Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines (World Health Organization).
- Host a vaccination clinic at the workplace.
- Provide support (e.g., paid leave for vaccination) for employees to attend COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
- Provide support (e.g., paid sick leave) to workers who experience side effects following a vaccination.
- Continuously evaluate workplace COVID-19 controls and community COVID-19 case numbers. Adjust controls (e.g., indoor mask wearing, working from home, etc.) if COVID-19 risks become too high or when required again by the local public health authority or jurisdictional health and safety regulator.
It is important that mental health resources and support are provided to all workers, including access to an employee assistance program, if available.
For further information on COVID-19, refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Disclaimer: As public and occupational health and safety information is changing rapidly, local public health authorities should be consulted for specific, regional guidance. This information is not intended to replace medical advice or legislated health and safety obligations. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.