Over 80 percent of District Service Board paramedics double vaccinated

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ESPANOLA – The vast majority of paramedics with the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board (DSB) have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, although the exact number is not firmed up due to the voluntary reporting policy at the DSB. COVID-19 vaccinations are voluntary with the DSB, unlike other required vaccinations that are enshrined in legislation.

Chief of Paramedic Services Paul Myre confirmed to the board that 84 percent of paramedics with the DSB have received at least one shot, while 81 percent of paramedics have reported receiving one shot, leaving 16 percent either unvaccinated or with a status that is currently unknown.

Any new placement students coming on board with the DSB will be required to have full vaccination, reported Mr. Myre.

Concerns over vaccinations, or rather the lack of vaccinations in a sizable portion of the EMS frontline workers were expressed by a number of members of the board, but Mr. Myre reiterated that the 16 percent number reported as unvaccinated includes those who have not yet reported their status (which is voluntary at this time) or submitted their proof of medical exemption.

DSB CAO Fern Dominelli noted that there are several vaccinations that paramedics are required to have, including hepatitis B, but that those requirements are written into the governing legislation for the field and that he anticipates that COVID-19 would be included in that list at some time in the future.

As it stands, the DSB has received legal advice that throws doubt on the organization being able to require existing employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. All new hires, however, will be required to have received full vaccination against the pandemic virus.

EMS manager Myre reiterated that the first concern of the DSB is the health and safety of their employees and the people they serve.