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COVID-19 Vaccine Concerns

Questions and Answers

COVID-19 Vaccine

Q. Can you give me an update on what is happening on getting the vaccine for all of us who are working with Covid-positive patients?

 A. In response to the concerns raised by HSAS and other unions, the employer recently reported that they have created new processes for determining whether a health care worker should be included in the extended Phase 1.

  • Part of the process involves the employer’s human resources staff reaching out to managers and asking managers to identify which of their staff should be offered the vaccine in Phase 1. 
  • An additional process has been created to provide an individual employee the ability to submit a request to be included in Phase 1. This process is outlined in an algorithm which was published in the SHA Daily Rounds on March 1, 2021.
    Click here: SHA staff and physician COVID-19 vaccination review process algorithm. 
  • Also published on March 1 and accompanying the algorithm is a form which any employee is able to complete to request inclusion in Phase 1

    To any member who believes that they should be included in Phase 1 vaccine sequencing, we would suggest the following:

    1) Ask your manager if they have submitted your name as an employee who should be included in Phase 1

    2) If your name has not been submitted by your manager, please follow the algorithm and complete the request form
          Click here:   COVID-19 vaccine sequencing interpretation intake form for SHA staff and physicians

    3) Although the form does not specifically request this information include information as to your Covid-19 exposure frequency, duration, and    location

    As the vaccine sequencing continues, and the SHA implements prioritization processes, HSAS will continue to advocate for prioritization of all members who wish to receive the vaccine.  As reported previously, HSAS has written to the Premier, Minister of Health, Minister of Rural and Remote Health and the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).  Daily calls with representatives of the SHA, Ministry of Health and all health care unions will continue to provide the opportunity to speak to the need for timely vaccine access.

    Q. I’ve heard that I would be able to take time off from work to get my vaccine and that I would be paid for that time.  Is that true?

    A. There was an announcement made on March 18, 2021 which indicated that the occupational health and safety regulations had been amended.  The added amendment addresses time away from work for Covid-19 vaccinations.  We are providing you with a Q and A excerpt from the Government of Saskatchewan website, as well as a link to the website itself.

    From the Government of Saskatchewan’s COVID-19: Questions and answers document, page 10:

    Occupational Health and Safety – Accessing COVID-19 Vaccinations –Announced March 18, 2021
    The occupational health and safety regulations were ammended to add a specific section that addresses time away from work for COVID-19 vaccinations.

    How much time are employees able to take off work to access a COVID-19 vaccination?
    Workers are able to take a minimum of three consecutive hours of paid time off to receive a COVID-19 vaccine during work hours. Employers can provide more than three hours off if they feel it is warranted to receive the vaccine.

    Each employer needs to have conversations with their staff about what is a reasonable time away for a vaccination. The three hours is a minimum amount of time, however an employer can allow for more than three consecutive hours leave if it is warranted.

    Can’t workers just get vaccinated after hours like they would for other common vaccinations such as the flu?
    Allowing workers to take time off with pay is one way we can make it easier for everyone to access the vaccine when their turn comes up. We also want to ensure that the health care system is not inundated if everyone in workplaces needed to receive a vaccination only after hours.

    Will employers be responsible for any cost associated with the vaccine?
    No. The province is making the vaccine available free of charge to citizens.

    Will government reimburse employers for having to provide paid time for employees to receive the vaccine during work hours?
    There will not be a cost recovery program associated with this new regulation.

    Can an employer request that a worker show proof of having had a COVID-19 vaccine?
    No, workers cannot be required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine.

    Can you provide an example of when more than three hours of leave would be warranted?
    An example would be where a worker is required to travel from a remote location to receive a vaccination.

    Are employers responsible for paid time off if the worker has a reaction to the vaccine and needs to stay
    home or be hospitalized?
    No. If a worker needs to be away from the office as a result of a reaction to the vaccine they will need to use sick leave or other leave options that may be available to them.

    Most of the vaccines require two shots, can employees use paid time off for a minimum of three hours each time or is it a cumulative amount of time?
    The paid time off is for one vaccination shot.

    Can workers who have had their first shot now take paid time to receive a second dose of the vaccine?
    Yes. In this circumstance workers would be entitled to a minimum of three consecutive hours of paid time off to get their second dose if vaccinated during work hours.

    If a worker receives paid time for their first dose of the vaccine can, can employers require a worker to take sick leave or vacation time to receive a second shot?
    Employers and workers should discuss options to determine the best way for workers to get a second dose as currently the paid time off is for one dose only.

    Can workers split the three-hour minimum time between the two shots?
    The current regulations indicate that the leave is for three consecutive hours not a total of three hours.

    If a worker already received a COVID-19 vaccination and had to take personal time or other leave can they now claim the cost of time back to the employer?
    No. The paid time off for a minimum of three consecutive hours only begins when the regulations come into force which is March 18, 2021.

    To download the full document, click here.

     

    Q: I have heard that there is now a COVID-19 vaccine in Saskatchewan. Will I be able to get it?

    A: The Saskatchewan provincial government is working with the federal government and SHA to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine for selected groups of the population, including health care workers. In December 2020 there was a pilot project to vaccinate 975 health care workers in the Regina area with a second    in Saskatoon. Those who work in high-risk COVID environments such as intensive care and emergency departments were eligible to participate in this initial pilot project which began the week of December 14. Some HSAS members including EMS and respiratory therapists were also included in the pilot phase.

    At this time further vaccine supplies received by the province have been limited and accessibility to the vaccine by health care workers will be determined according to a vaccine rollout plan.

    https://www.saskatchewan.ca/-/media/files/coronavirus/vaccine/saskatchewan-covid-19-vaccine-delivery-plan.pdf

    https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/vaccine-delivery-phases

     

    Q: When will there be enough vaccine for everyone?

    A: We do not know the answer to this. It depends on a number of factors including production, distribution, transportation, and administration. The SHA has not indicated to HSAS when a vaccine would be widely and readily available. They have indicated that there are vaccine supply shortages currently with anticipated numbers not matching what was expected by certain delivery dates.

     

    Q: Can my employer force me to get the Covid vaccine?  Do I have a choice?

    A: The government website indicates that there are no mandatory vaccinations in Saskatchewan. The leadership of the SHA has been clear that the vaccine will be offered to their employees on a voluntary basis.  However, they have also made it known that they will be strongly encouraging employees to accept the vaccine when it is made available to them.

     

    Q: Can I be disciplined by my employer for refusing to get the Covid-19 vaccine if it was offered to me?

    A: The SHA leadership has said that it will not discipline employees who refuse to be vaccinated for Covid-19.

     

    Q:  Are there any contraindications to getting the vaccine?  Are they people who shouldn’t get it- even if offered to them?

    A: That is a good question.  Covid-19 vaccine Questions and Answers can be found on the government website:

    https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/covid-19-vaccine-information

     

    Q: Can I choose which brand of COVID-19 vaccine I receive, once there is more than one brand available?

    A:  The SHA has indicated that health care workers would be able to choose which vaccine they receive. However, the availability of different vaccines could affect the timing of when the health care worker is able to receive it.

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