RNAO says more needs to be added to vaccine passport program

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / psphotography

The CEO of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says the provincial government’s COVID-19 vaccine passport system almost addresses all of their concerns but doesn’t quite cut it.

Doris Grinspun said the program falls short by not mandating vaccinations for healthcare and education workers.

“We have colleagues that do not want to work with the one nurse or one doctor that decided not to be vaccinated,” she said. “It’s not many, but more of a reason to make it mandatory.”

As announced Wednesday, Ontario residents will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend several indoor venues, starting September 22.

Grinspun agreed it doesn’t make sense as to why an unvaccinated person can work with vulnerable groups, provided they are tested regularly for COVID-19, but can’t attend a sporting event or dine indoors at restaurants.

“It doesn’t only strike me as odd, it is absolutely outrageous,” she said.

Grinspun said the RNAO will continue to push the government to mandate vaccinations for certain industries and for masks to be made mandatory for children aged two and up, while indoors at daycare and school.

If the current vaccine system proves to be “insufficient”, Grinspun said calls to expand the program to more businesses and venues will be made.

“Dr. Kieran Moore also said himself that that will be reevaluated according to the need, how hospitals are doing, etcetera,” she said.

On Wednesday, the province reported 339 COVID-19 patients in hospital, of which 36 were fully vaccinated. Health Minister Christine Elliott also said of the 163 people with the virus in the ICU, 12 are fully vaccinated.

“If the hospitals continue to be full with people that are unvaccinated … then not only are you suffering, and your family by having you in the hospital, also people that require other services are,” said Grinspun. “They all get pushed aside because you decided not to vaccinate yourself, so get vaccinated.”