Health unit requires everyone at recreational facilities to show proof of vaccination

CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, Nicole Dupuis on September 27, 2021. (screen shot from media Q and A)

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is streamlining vaccination requirements at the region’s municipal recreational facilities.

Individual municipalities announced their requirements ahead of the province’s new vaccination certification system coming into effect last Wednesday. The letter of instruction from the health unit means some will have to go a step further.

Under its guideline, anyone 12 or older who enters a municipal recreational facility to play or watch a game would need to show proof they had both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s a step beyond the provincial guideline, which only requires those playing a game to show proof.

Windsor and Tecumseh already require spectators to show proof or a written medical exemption. However, Kingsville and LaSalle may need to modify their rules in line with the public health unit’s expectations.

The letter does not cover games at schools and is anticipated later in the day on Monday.

On Friday, the health unit issued another letter of instruction dealing with informed consent for those under 18. CEO Nicole Dupuis said it took the step because there had been some confusion in the community. Informed consent means children under 18 do not need their parent’s approval to receive the COVID-19 vaccine so long as they understand what they are getting and the potential risk of side effects. About 20 students got their shot last Friday at a vaccination clinic held at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School.

“Young people go to the doctor all the time without their mom and dad,” said Medical Officer of Health Doctor Shanker Nesathurai. “In medicine, in general, the current view is that there is no clear cut point for when you can give consent or not. The real issue is, can you really understand. If you can understand what the nature of the treatment is, and you can understand the risks and benefits as a construct, you can consent.”

Dupuis said she was aware of a narrative that children were being coerced into getting the vaccination.

“That is certainly not the case,” she said.

The health unit reported 117 new infections over the weekend. A total of 30 were reported on Saturday, 47 on Sunday, and 40 Monday morning. Of those, 64 people had close contact with another patient the health unit is already tracking. Another 29 people caught the virus in the community. There were nine cases related to one of the region’s 24 outbreaks, and one was travel-related. Public health officials continue to investigate the origin of 14.

The number of active cases in Windsor-Essex is now 307, with 163 of those involving a variant of concern.

There are also 14 people currently in the hospital with COVID-19.