(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

AHS no longer requires COVID-19 immunization of employees

Alberta Health Services (AHS) announced earlier this week it was rescinding its policy requiring AHS healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment.

The policy was struck down on July 18.

In addition, new hires and students will no longer be required to be immunized for COVID-19 upon hire or placement.

“While vaccines continue to provide strong protection against serious illness, the decision to rescind the policy is the result of emerging evidence that the immunization required by the policy, which is one dose of an approved one-dose vaccine or two doses of an approved two-dose vaccine, has become less protective against infection,” stated the release.

AHS said the COVID-19 vaccines available to date target the original strain of the virus and the virus has evolved since then.

AHS defended the policy saying at the time it was implemented, 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.”

“This was the right policy at the time, and was based on the best evidence available to protect our staff and patients,” said Mauro Chies, AHS interim president and CEO in the release.

The release further explained the current evidence reveals that immunization without boosters has limited effectiveness in reducing transmission of the Omicron variants currently circulating.

“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,” said Chies. “The safety of our patients and healthcare workers is of the utmost importance to AHS.”

AHS is continuing to require workers to stay home when sick, wear required personal protective equipment and practice hand hygiene.

“We will continue to closely monitor scientific evidence to assess the need for additional measures.”

Alberta Health Services Central Zone