Alberta Health Services employees will no longer be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. AHS says the requirements under its immunization policy have become less effective against infection because the virus has evolved since the approved vaccines were created.
“The immunization policy was implemented to protect patients, healthcare workers and the public at a time during the pandemic when the immunization required by the policy was still effective in preventing transmission and when it was needed most to help contain the spread of COVID-19. This was the right policy at the time and was based on the best evidence available to protect our staff and patients,” says Mauro Chies, interim president and CEO of AHS.
“Policies and procedures have had to constantly evolve during the pandemic to reflect significant changes in the virus itself and the ever-changing evidence base as we continue to protect our people and patients.”
AHS required full vaccination from an approved single or double dose vaccine and now says they have become less effective against infection. New hires and students will also no longer need to get vaccinated.
“The AHS policy came into effect when Delta was the dominant variant and the immunization required by the policy was highly effective in protecting the health and safety of workers, patients and the communities that AHS serves by limiting the spread of COVID-19,” reads a news release from AHS. “Current evidence reveals that immunization without boosters has limited effectiveness in reducing transmission of the Omicron variants currently circulating.”
AHS notes healthcare workers have an ethical and professional responsibility to protect others and says it knows immunization is an effective tool. The organization says booster doses enhance the effectiveness of initial vaccination and help protect against waning immunity.
“We continue to recommend COVID-19 immunization, including all booster doses available, to all of our healthcare workers as part of our overall approach to protect patients and one another,” says Chies. “We are extremely grateful to all of those healthcare workers who are fully immunized.”