COVID-19 cases are increasing again in the Niagara community and in our hospital, consistent with the reports from experts that we are in the fourth wave of the pandemic. This wave is increasingly being described as the wave of the unvaccinated.
“The Delta variant accounts for most of Niagara’s current cases, and it is significantly more transmissible than anything we’ve experienced since the pandemic began,” says Lynn Guerriero, President and CEO at Niagara Health. “As a hospital, we need to do everything we can to protect our patients, their loved ones and our team. A mandatory vaccination program will also help us to maintain capacity in the hospital and continue to reintroduce services that were paused during previous waves of the pandemic.”
We have been preparing for several weeks to implement a mandatory vaccination program for Niagara Health that requires staff and physicians to be fully vaccinated (two doses) or test negative prior to coming to work. We’re also considering mandating full vaccination for all new staff and physicians without the option for testing. Most of our staff and physicians have already received two doses (83%).
Niagara Health supports the province’s decision to mandate vaccination in high-risk settings including hospitals, and similar to what is currently in place for long-term care homes. In today’s announcement, the government has indicated that all hospitals will be required to implement mandatory vaccinations and testing as of Sept. 7. Since Niagara Health has been working on our mandatory vaccination plan for a number of weeks, we may be in a position to move forward more quickly.
“The fourth wave reinforces a number of important infection prevention and control practices that are in place,” says Dr. Johan Viljoen, Chief of Staff. “I urge everyone to remain vigilant with masking, hand hygiene and physical distancing.
“After having zero cases earlier this month for the first time since September 2020, we now have four patients in our care with COVID-19. There are a total of 128 active cases in Niagara as of today. Of note, 71% of the region’s population has received a first dose and 63% has received a second. This is a concern because those who aren’t fully vaccinated are at a high risk of becoming seriously ill and needing hospitalization, as well as transmitting the virus to family members, including young children, and others with whom they come into contact.”
Niagara Health would like to reinforce the importance of full vaccinations to blunt the fourth wave and keep everyone safe.