Vaccination policy information for employees

We are thankful to all employees for their continued dedication to our important work during the ever-changing pandemic and grateful to those who have stepped up and received their COVID-19 vaccinations.

We are moving towards a fully vaccinated workplace by October 31. This is unprecedented and new territory for the organization and this decision was considered carefully.

By October 31, 2021, we expect all Canadian Blood Services employees, including fee-for-service contractors, to be fully vaccinated (meaning two doses of a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine). Without a medical or legitimate human rights exception, recognized by CBS, employees who choose not to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will no longer be employed by Canadian Blood Services. This decision was not made lightly.

Policy FAQ’s

Is Canadian Blood Services requiring employees, fee-for-service contractors and volunteers to be vaccinated?

Yes, we are moving towards a fully vaccinated workplace by October 31. As many areas are now entering a fourth wave of the pandemic, it is crucial we safeguard the health of our employees and prevent disruptions to our essential operations. We must safeguard the well-being, health and safety of all our employees who are working in our environments. The policy applies to all employees and fee-for-service contractors. After October 1, volunteers will need to be fully vaccinated before volunteering with Canadian Blood Services.  

Who needs to report their vaccination status?

The first step required all Canadian Blood Services employees and fee-for-service contractors to report their vaccination status through a secure online tool on MEDA.blood.ca. Volunteers are asked to send a digital copy of their provided proof of vaccination to a secure email.

It was stated earlier that Canadian Blood Services would likely not require vaccinations for employees. What has changed?

The COVID-19 landscape is constantly changing. We are continuously monitoring and considering how best to keep employees safe and ensure the security of our essential operations. There is extensive scientific data that demonstrates vaccines to be the most effective way to reduce the risk of COVID-19. This, combined with the onset of a fourth wave and a surge of highly contagious variants circulating, is the reason we have decided to move towards a fully vaccinated workplace by late fall. A fully vaccinated workplace is essential to safeguarding employee health and wellness, in addition to protecting our operations.

What if I can’t receive my two doses in time before October 31?

We understand each province has its own vaccination dose schedule; most vaccines require four weeks (28 days) between doses. With the required time between vaccine doses, some employees may not be able to be fully vaccinated by October 31. Allowances may be made by Canadian Blood Services, to extend the final vaccination date, for any employees who are partially vaccinated and able to demonstrate they are currently in the process of becoming fully vaccinated.

Why are you enforcing a 10-day unpaid leave of absence if we are not vaccinated in time?

Any employee who has not indicated any effort toward getting vaccinated (either partially or fully) by October 31, 2021, will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence for 10 days.

During this 10-day unpaid leave of absence, we will do whatever we can to address any outstanding questions or concerns around the vaccine. We will use this time to support (to the extent that is reasonable) all employees with challenges they’ve experienced toward being vaccinated.

After this 10-day unpaid leave of absence, employees who still choose not to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, will be terminated from employment at Canadian Blood Services. The purpose of this period of leave is to provide employees with additional time to comply with the policy and very clearly understand their consequences as it relates to maintaining employment with CBS.

I am not vaccinated and have been coming to work all this time without issue. We have followed strict COVID measures and cases are low. Why are you now mandating vaccinations?

It is crucial we safeguard the health of our employees and prevent disruptions to our essential operations. We must safeguard the well-being, health and safety of all employees who are working in our environments.

There is extensive scientific data that demonstrates vaccines to be the most effective way to reduce the risk of COVID-19. This, combined with the onset of a fourth wave and a surge of highly contagious variants circulating and new ones emerging, is the reason we have decided to move towards a fully vaccinated workplace by October 31. We believe that a fully vaccinated workplace, along with continued adherence to our current COVID-19 measures such as PPE and physical distancing will help provide extra protection to anyone who is required to be onsite for any reason, at any time.

What about employees who are on long-term leave, or their contracts end before October 1?

Employees on pre-existing long-term leave at the time of the effective date of this policy or whose contracts end before the effective date shall not be subject to the policy implementation plan (Sept – Oct 2021). Employees on long-term leaves shall work with their leaders to determine a specific compliance timeline related to their return to work date.

I do not intend to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Will I lose my job?

Being fully vaccinated will be a condition of working for Canadian Blood Services. It is in this light, with the singular objective of optimizing the health and safety of our workforce (and ensuring we can maintain our operations at all times), that we have determined implications for employees who do not complete full vaccination by late fall.

Without a recognized medical or legitimate human rights exception, those who choose not to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will no longer be employed by Canadian Blood Services. This decision was not made lightly.

We will accommodate employees, to the point of undue hardship, who cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine based on recognized medical/legitimate human rights grounds. We will require proof for medical/human rights reasons not to be vaccinated.

We understand that this decision will not be welcomed by everyone who works for Canadian Blood Services. In coming to the decision that we did, we needed to balance the best interests of the entire organization, all those who engage with us, and ultimately those whom we serve.

What happens if I report that I am unvaccinated and do not intend to seek vaccination?

Being fully vaccinated will be a condition of working for Canadian Blood Services. By October 31, 2021, we expect all Canadian Blood Services employees (except those with a medical or human rights exception), including fee-for-service contractors, to be fully vaccinated (meaning two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine).

Any employee who has not demonstrated intentions of getting vaccinated (either partially or fully) by October 31, 2021, will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence for 10 days.

During this 10-day unpaid leave of absence, Canadian Blood Services will do whatever we can to address any outstanding questions or concerns around the vaccine. We will support (to the extent that is reasonable) all employees with challenges they’ve experienced toward being vaccinated.

After this 10-day unpaid leave of absence, employees who still choose not to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, will be terminated from employment at Canadian Blood Services.

We understand that there are certain employees who may need to be excused from this policy or otherwise accommodated, based on recognized medical/legitimate human rights grounds. We will balance our obligations to keep employees safe, and do our best to accommodate, to the point of undue hardship, those who have legitimate reasons to not vaccinate. We will work to accommodate those who are not able to be vaccinated and protect against stigmatization.

Will employees working from home need to report their status or require to be vaccinated?

Yes. All employees will need to be fully vaccinated even if they work remotely and don’t intend to come on-site regularly. This measure will ensure the protection and safety for those working on-site; but it also protects those working remotely from becoming ill and resulting in a negative impact on operations.

In rare circumstances, such as needing to come on-site for IT support, or attending a short in-person meeting, an individual must be fully vaccinated to enter the site.

If I’m being forced to leave, will I get a severance?

There will be no severance offered to employees terminated under this policy. Any employee terminated under the policy will be terminated for cause.

Reporting FAQ’s

How can I access MEDA and the reporting tool?

The primary method for employees to enter their status and attestation is through the COVID-19/My COVID-19 Vaccine app on https://meda.blood.ca, which can be accessed through any computer, tablet or smartphone. If you are not on a Canadian Blood Services network you will be asked, through the app, to provide additional security information from a Canadian Blood Services supplied Entrust grid card. Please refer to the guide on Reporting Vaccination Status on MEDA for support.

I can’t access MEDA. Are there other options for reporting my status?

The primary method will be for the employee to enter their status and attestation through the COVID-19/My COVID-19 Vaccine app on https://meda.blood.ca. There will be computers with access to the app available on site for those employees who continue to work at our sites. For those rare situations where entry in MEDA is impossible, a form can be filled out and emailed or faxed in for entry. A fillable form can be downloaded from Connect, either filled in online or printed and filled in. This form can then be emailed to ehs@blood.ca or faxed to 613-260-4020 for entry.

If I email or fax my status, is that information secure?

Yes, the email address and fax being used are only accessible to Employee Health Services (EHS) staff and the forms will be securely stored. For additional security you should ensure that the form you submit is securely stored on your end or destroyed and that you submit using a blood.ca email address where possible.

What are the steps in the reporting tool and how long will it take?

Please refer to the guide on Reporting Vaccination Status on MEDA. Once connected to MEDA, the process should take no more than 10 mins.

Why can’t I give my information to my supervisor or manager to enter?

It is important that the employee attest that the information is correct, therefore it is important that the employee themselves provides the vaccination status to CBS.

Do I need to use a CBS computer or be on the CBS network?

No, meda.blood.ca can be accessed through any computer, tablet or smartphone. If the device is on the CBS network (WIFI or wired) then no additional validation is required. If it isn’t on a CBS network the employee will be asked, through the app, to provide additional security information from a CBS supplied Entrust grid card. More information on this can be found by contacting the IT National Service Desk.

I’m on the frontlines and don’t have regular access to a computer. Will extra support be available?

The primary method will be for the employee to enter their status and attestation through the MEDA app on meda.blood.ca. There are multiple ways to connect to MEDA.

  1. If you are working on a CBS site and have access to a computer connected to the network, you can use the internet browser on the computer to connect to MEDA. If you do not have access to a computer in the course of your work, there are shared computers available at most sites that can be used to access MEDA. Many of these are available in lunch rooms or team rooms. If you are not sure of the availability and location of these shared devices, please contact your site supervisor / manager.
  2. If you are working remotely, you can access MEDA by either
    1. Connecting to the CBS network through VPN and then connecting to MEDA or
    2. Using your Entrust Grid Card to access MEDA directly from your personal phone, tablet, home computer or CBS issued phone / laptop.

For those rare situations where entry in MEDA is impossible, a form can be filled out and emailed or faxed in for entry. A fillable form can be downloaded from Connect, either filled in online or printed and filled in. This form can then be emailed to ehs@blood.ca or faxed to 613-260-4020 for entry.

What if employees don’t report their status before the September 22 deadline? Are there accommodations for those who are away during this time and didn’t report?

We are providing 8 business days to allow employees to log into the reporting tool and log their status.

Leaders are responsible for ensuring employee compliance with this policy, which includes ensuring that employees have the opportunity to complete the disclosure requirements. Leaders must also ensure that all direct reports are aware of this policy and addressing any questions employees may have regarding the implementation of the policy.

I entered my status, but now I need to go back in and change it. Is this possible?

As you move through the process to become fully vaccinated you will need to keep your status updated. To update your status you can either go into the app on meda.blood.ca and make the updates directly or if you have exhausted all means to access meda.blood.ca to enter your status, a fillable form can be downloaded from Connect, either filled in online or printed and filled in. This form can then be emailed to ehs@blood.ca or faxed to 613-260-4020 for entry.

I am in a rare situation where I don’t have the ability to use MEDA and need to submit by email or fax, where do I get support for that?

If you have exhausted all means to access meda.blood.ca to enter your status, a fillable form can be downloaded from Connect, either filled in online or printed and filled in. This form can then be emailed to ehs@blood.ca or faxed to 613-260-4020 for entry. For any additional support on this process, please call or email your HR Service Rep. Contact information can be found here Human Resources Representatives.

Who do I contact if I’m having technical issues with reporting my status?

If you are having technical issues please contact the National Service Desk at x2500 (from outside CBS: 1-877-389-2500)

Who can I contact if I have questions about policy, the program or the collection of data?

Please send your question or concern to communications@blood.ca and it will be forwarded to the proper contact (PCP, EHS, etc.)

Will the collection tool and corporate processes align with privacy requirements?

As we implement this policy, the protection of your information is and will be of utmost importance. We have developed processes and tools that align with security requirements, applicable privacy legislation and our corporate Employee Personal Information Protection Policy (POL013).

How will Canadian Blood Services collect and store my vaccination status?

Employees were required to report their vaccination status to Canadian Blood Services from September 13-22 through a secure online tool on MEDA.blood.ca and will be required to update their status if it changes. We will only collect information that is necessary and any information you provide will be securely stored on our internal systems. If you are unable to be vaccinated based on medical or human rights grounds, we will also collect additional information about these grounds from you. Only Canadian Blood Services staff who need to know your vaccine status information will have access to it.

What will Canadian Blood Services do with my vaccination status information?

Canadian Blood Services will use your vaccination status information to verify whether you are able to come onsite, to follow-up with those who are not fully vaccinated, to determine compliance with the COVID-19 vaccination policy and manage its relationship with you as an employee or fee-for-service contractor. Canadian Blood Services may also use your vaccination status information for COVID-19 case management and risk management purposes (e.g., if there is a positive case of COVID-19 at a site, Canadian Blood Services may use the information to quickly identify and notify those employees and contractors at highest risk and assess/manage the impact on staffing and operations).

In addition, if you are required to be at any other location to perform a Canadian Blood Services job function, Canadian Blood Services may share your COVID-19 vaccination status information with that site, as required. In line with our corporate Employee Personal Information Protection Policy, this information may also be disclosed where permitted or required by law, otherwise, we will not disclose this information without your consent.  

Who at Canadian Blood Services will need to know or have access to my vaccination status information?

Only Canadian Blood Services staff that need to know your vaccination status for reasonable purposes related to managing the employment relationship, including to verify whether you are able to come onsite, to follow-up with those that are not fully vaccinated, to determine compliance with the COVID-19 vaccination policy, and for COVID-19 case management and risk management purposes, will have access to your vaccination status information.

For example, in instances where employees cannot be vaccinated for medical/human rights reasons and require accommodations, either Employee Health Services and/or a People, Culture and Performance business partner will need to be made aware to follow-up with those employees.

In instances where employees choose to not be vaccinated or choose not to disclose their vaccination status, their supervisor, manager and/or leaders will need to be made aware to follow up with them. In addition, in cases where unvaccinated employees are required to complete an education session and, if working on site, need to participate in rapid screening, coordinators of those programs and/or managers/supervisors will need to know vaccine status information in order to contact those employees about next steps.

Do I need to submit proof of vaccination?

If you are vaccinated, you will be asked to attest your status through the online tool. If you have a legitimate reason (medical/human rights) to not vaccinate, you will be asked to provide proof. Providing untruthful information regarding vaccine status or medical/human rights exemption proof, at any point during this process, shall result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. The organization reserves the right to request proof of vaccination to validate the attestation.

Will employees be required to disclose their reason for not being vaccinated? How do I submit proof of medical/human rights for exemption?

We will require proof for medical/human rights reasons not to be vaccinated. Employees who are unable to be fully vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons are protected under human rights legislation and will be accommodated, to the point of undue hardship, based on their individual situation and/or needs. Medical documentation will be required in order for CBS to conduct a proper assessment of the employee’s medical condition and whether it supports an inability to be vaccinated.

Exemption requests for non-medical reasons (i.e. an employee’s religious belief, practice or observance) will be assessed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and in accordance with provincial human rights codes and case law.

If you have a need (or have questions) related to being accommodated due to reasons protected under human rights laws, please contact Employee Health Services (EHS) at ehs@blood.ca.

EHS will ask for additional documentation as per our normal accommodation processes. For reasons that aren’t due to medical issues, the request will be passed to PCP for their evaluation.

Will we also ask employees to disclose vaccination status for other very contagious illnesses, such as measles? If not, why not?

COVID-19 is a global pandemic we are currently fighting, its variants are highly contagious, and unlike other transmissible diseases, COVID-19 can present asymptomatically. Because of this and its potential detrimental effects on our workforce and operations, we will only collect COVID-19 vaccination information from our employees and volunteers

Exemption FAQs

Will employees be required to disclose their reason for not being vaccinated? How do I submit proof of medical/human rights for exemption?

We will require proof for medical/human rights reasons not to be vaccinated. Employees who are unable to be fully vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons are protected under human rights legislation and will be accommodated, to the point of undue hardship, based on their individual situation and/or needs. Medical documentation will be required in order for CBS to conduct a proper assessment of the employee’s medical condition and whether it supports an inability to be vaccinated.

Exemption requests for non-medical reasons (i.e. an employee’s religious belief, practice or observance) will be assessed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and in accordance with provincial human rights codes and case law.

If you have a need (or have questions) related to being accommodated due to reasons protected under human rights laws, please contact Employee Health Services (EHS) at ehs@blood.ca.

EHS will ask for additional documentation as per our normal accommodation processes. For reasons that aren’t due to medical issues, the request will be passed to PCP for their evaluation.

What constitutes a legitimate human right exemption?

Aside from legitimate medical reasons the only other ground under human rights legislation we anticipate possible accommodation to occur is for religious purposes. For a legitimate issue to arise, the employee will need to demonstrate that a sincerely held belief, connected to their religion, is preventing the individual from being vaccinated. This assessment will be performed on a case-by-case basis, but in understanding whether the reason is legitimate, the employee will be required to demonstrate proof, which includes support and justification from their religious leader.

Rapid Screening FAQs

Can you provide details on the rapid screening interim accommodations?

Rapid antigen screens can quickly detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic people and help to identify and reduce risk of further infections. Rapid screening is only appropriate for asymptomatic individuals. If an employee has symptoms, or any other risk factors that indicate they require testing for COVID-19, they must seek lab-based PCR diagnostic testing (administered through public health or an alternative entity, should public health testing be unavailable, as directed by Canadian Blood Services).

Rapid screening is either conducted on-site or at-home (dependent on the jurisdiction). Employees receive training on how to do rapid screening, including conducting their own nasal swab, preparing the sample for testing and interpreting test results (for at-home screening). Generally, employees will use a Rapid Screening App to book appointments for on-site screening and to upload test results if the screening is conducted at home.

Any unvaccinated employees screening positive during the interim rapid screening period will be contacted by the Canadian Blood Services case management team and their manager will also be notified. Anyone with a positive result must leave work immediately (or not come into work if the screening was done at home) and get a PCR test (administered through public health or an alternative entity, should public health testing be unavailable, as directed by Canadian Blood Services) within 24 hours. While the employee is off work to seek PCR testing, and waiting for their PCR test result, they are eligible for COVID-19 quarantine leave.

If the PCR test is positive, the employee must notify their manager and follow all instructions provided by public health. During this time, the employee is eligible for paid COVID-19-related sick leave until cleared to return to work by public health. Once cleared to return the employee must contact OHS/EHS.

If the PCR result is negative the employee may enter the worksite and continue to participate in rapid screening.

What is rapid antigen screening?

An antigen test involves exposing a liquid sample to reactive molecules. The test detects fragments of proteins and produces a preliminary result quickly, much like the pregnancy tests available from drug stores.

Rapid antigen screens can quickly detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic people, helping to identify and reduce the risk of further infections.

Antigen screening does not replace the traditional lab-based PCR diagnostic testing administered through public health.

How accurate is rapid screening?

The rapid antigen screens approved by Health Canada and in use at Canadian Blood Services are exceptionally accurate. Fewer than one per cent of all positive results are later proven false through diagnostic COVID-19 PCR tests administered through public health. 

False negative results are slightly more common. It is possible, for instance, that someone recently infected with COVID-19 will test negative. For this reason, employees must test regularly and remain vigilant with all existing safety measures. 

What rapid-screening test is being used?

The Panbio™ COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device is being used.  The test produces highly accurate results from nasal swabs in 15—20 minutes. 

Is this a new program?

No. With support from Health Canada, Canadian Blood Services has offered a COVID-19 rapid screening program since March 2021 at several sites across the country.

How do I book an appointment for on-site screening?

On-site rapid screening is only offered at sites in Newfoundland and British Columbia. You will receive information on how to schedule appointments using the Rapid Screening App. This app can be used on your work or personal device or workstation.  Note: Before you can use this booking application from a personal device you must register for Multi-Factor Authentication if you have not already done so. If you have any problems with the booking app, please contact the Help Desk (ext. 2500). 

Employees working at other sites have the opportunity to participate in at home screening. 

How do I learn how to do rapid screening at home? Is it difficult?

You will be provided with training on how to do the nasal swab and test the sample. 

It is an easy test to perform, especially once you have done it a couple of times. It should only take you a few minutes to self-administer the swab and apply the sample to the test and then 15-20 minutes to wait for your result. There are instruction videos on the app to guide you, a manual will be provided, and the rapid screening program is always available to help you (email: rapidscreeningprogram@blood.ca).

Does the nasal swab hurt?

No, the nasal swab used to perform the test does not hurt. This test is much less uncomfortable than the nasopharyngeal swab that is required for PCR tests through public health. You will be trained on how to perform the self-swab correctly and safely. 

Are there any special storage considerations for the at-home test kits?

You must store the test kits at 15°C to 30°C (room temperature) and leave them sealed in their foil pouches until just before use. 

What is my responsibility with these test kits?

It is important that employees demonstrate effective stewardship of these supplies. This means:  

  • The test kits should only be used by the employee, not other members of their household. 
  • The sale or exchange of test kits is strictly prohibited.  
  • The test kits are sensitive to extreme temperatures, therefore cannot be stored or transported in hot or cold environments (e.g., outside or in your car). 
  • Used test kits must be properly disposed of in accordance with your local bylaws. 
  • Any unused test kits must be returned to Canadian Blood Services. 

Am I eligible for paid leave if I get a presumptive positive result from a rapid screening test? 

Yes, you are.

If your rapid screen result is presumptive positive self-isolate and get a PCR test (common lab-based COVID-19 test administered through public health). While you are off work to seek PCR testing, and while you wait to be notified of your PCR test result you are eligible for COVID-19 quarantine leave.

If your PCR COVID-19 confirmatory test result is negative, you may return to work. 

If you receive a positive PCR COVID-19 confirmatory test result, you must follow local public health direction and self-isolate. During this time, you are eligible for paid COVID-19-related sick leave until you are cleared to return to work by public health. When you are cleared to return, please contact OHS/EHS.

For more information on quarantine leave and COVID-19 related sick leave visit Connect.

I reported myself as unvaccinated or partially unvaccinated. What is the next step to enroll in the rapid screening program?

Rapid screening is required for employees that are unvaccinated (or partially vaccinated) to come on site, including those with a medical exemption. If you are required to enroll in the rapid screening program, your manager will be in touch initially, then a member from the rapid screening program will follow up with details on training, test-kit pick up (home screening) or instructions on how to book appointments (on-site screening). The period of rapid antigen testing, for employees required to do so under the policy, will commence between Oct. 1 and 8. During this window of time employees will be onboarded to the program. Once an employee is onboarded, they should start screening right away.  

Why can’t we continue to undergo rapid screening in order to keep our jobs?

During the October transition period, any employee indicating that they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be required to complete regular rapid antigen screening to enter our sites. However, after

the end of October, this option will no longer be available to employees who have chosen not to become vaccinated. The ability to offer routine rapid screening as an alternative option in the long-term is unknown. These tests are intended for screening purposes and not for prevention purposes so they are not a valid substitution for vaccination. An employee can still test negative on a rapid screen in the course of their infection (false negative).

Where will rapid testing be done and if we are required to undergo testing, how often?

Canadian Blood Services has a rapid screening program with test kits provided by Health Canada. Depending on which province your site is located in, rapid testing will either occur on-site or you will be provided test kits to do screening at home. There is no cost to the employee.

Staff that are unvaccinated can continue to report to work but will need to have a negative rapid antigen screening result within the last 72 hours.

Rapid testing will be required for unvaccinated (or partially vaccinated) employees to come on site until the end of October, including those with a medical exemption. However, after the end of October, this option will no longer be available to employees who have chosen not to become vaccinated. Rapid testing may continue for those employees with legitimate medical/human rights exemptions; this will be determined on a case-by-case basis. 

Will managers/supervisors need to check an employee's rapid screen result before they start their shift?

No. Employees will be responsible for ensuring they have a negative test result within the past 72 hours. All results must be entered into the Rapid Screening App. Participation will be monitored to ensure compliance with the policy. If there are any issues with compliance, the employee’s manager will be notified.

What do I do when I run out of test kits for home screening?

Please contact your rapid screening site lead to make arrangements to pick up more test kits. If your site does not have a lead, please contact your manager directly.

Will the rapid antigen testing continue to be an option after the vaccination deadline?

Rapid testing will be required for unvaccinated (or partially vaccinated) employees to come on site until the end of October, including those with a medical exemption. However, after the end of October, this option will no longer be available to employees who have chosen not to become vaccinated. Rapid testing may continue for those employees with legitimate medical/human rights exemptions.

I’m worried my colleagues will know my vaccination status by participating in the rapid screening program. How will my privacy be protected?

Depending on which province your site is located in, rapid testing will either occur on-site or you will be provided test kits to do screening at home. If you’re testing on-site, you will be among those enrolled in the voluntary program so you won’t be identified as someone who is unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. Your manager will be notified that you are required to enroll, and a member of the rapid screening program will be aware of your participation. The protection of your information is and will be of utmost importance. We have developed processes and tools that align with applicable security requirements, privacy legislation and our corporate Employee Personal Information Protection Policy (POL013).

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Do COVID-19 vaccines have side effects?

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How were COVID-19 vaccines developed so quickly?

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Vaccine FAQs

We know that fully vaccinated people can still get and transmit COVID-19, even if their cases are mild. Does this mean we need to continue to behave as if anyone could have COVID-19 at any time?

Vaccination is very important as all COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing serious disease and hospitalizations. However, no vaccine is 100 per cent effective and the efficacy of vaccines against emerging variants is uncertain. At this time, evidence is emerging that even fully vaccinated individuals may still be infected and transmit COVID-19. However, a fully vaccinated workplace, along with continued adherence to our current COVID measures such as PPE and physical distancing, will help provide extra protection for everyone. It will also reduce the amount of time employees stay home sick or have to stay home to look after an ill family member, which will help reduce disruptions for staff and our operations.

There is no scientific data/studies complete yet in showing how long the vaccine is effective for. Why enforce this policy when there are still unknowns?

Although the duration of vaccine effectiveness is not clear, studies to date indicate that vaccinated individuals are still at reduced risk of infection meaning that they have better protection than unvaccinated people. Booster shots are a possibility for addressing reduced effectiveness over time.

I’m worried about the vaccines being safe.

Only vaccines that are proven to be safe, effective and of high quality are authorized for use in Canada. The COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested during their development and then carefully reviewed by Health Canada. More information on the approved COVID-19 vaccines in Canada can be found here.

Support FAQs

What about employees who are experiencing significant vaccine anxiety or hesitation? What resources, supports or options will be available for those who do not have a medical or human rights-based issue for not getting vaccinated but are vaccine hesitant?

Plans are underway to support those who are hesitant/concerned about the COVID-19 vaccines. More information will be shared once it becomes available.

We understand that there are a variety of reasons for vaccine hesitancy. Anxiety, fear, negative healthcare experiences or community pressure can be barriers to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. We recognize these barriers exist, and we remain committed to providing supports and resources for those whose anxiety, or hesitation is making it difficult to get vaccinated.

Employees who are experiencing significant anxiety related to the COVID-19 vaccine are encouraged to consult their treatment provider, or access available employee wellness supports including ‘drop-in’ virtual therapy sessions and free resources from LifeSpeak (password: thrive) and our EAP provider. To learn more, visit connect.blood.ca/employeesupports.

Those who are looking for additional mental health and well-being support can access clinical counsellors and psychologists through their employee benefits package. Additionally, our employee assistance program (EAP) provides all staff and household members access to family counselling and resources to help navigate these challenging times.

We also encourage employees to visit the vaccine page on the employee portal for vaccine education resources.

If I get sick after getting the vaccine, will I be supported with sick leave?

Employees who need to utilize sick leave for COVID-19 related illnesses, including mental illness and experiencing adverse reactions to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, will continue to be paid sick leave at 100 per cent.

This decision is causing anxiety and stress among myself and my colleagues.

We recognize and understand that employees may feel anxious or stressed about this policy.

In coming to this decision, we needed to balance the best interests of the entire organization, all those who engage with us, and ultimately those whom we serve. While it is our hope that everyone who is able, other than for medically exempted, or legitimate human rights reasons, chooses to get vaccinated, we understand that the prescriptive nature of COVID related policies and public health regulations and orders (including but not limited to vaccines) can cause anxiety and stress.

Those who are looking for additional mental health and well-being support are directed to speak to their primary treatment provider, and they can also access clinical counsellors and psychologists through their employee benefits package. Additionally, our employee assistance program (EAP) provides all staff and household members access to family counselling and resources to help navigate these challenging times, including weekly drop-in sessions.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email communications@blood.ca and your inquiry will be forwarded to the proper contact (PCP, EHS, etc.).

I have questions about my options. Who can I talk to?

If you have a need (or have questions) related to being accommodated due to reasons protected under human rights laws, please contact Employee Health Services (EHS) at ehs@blood.ca. EHS will ask for additional documentation as per our normal accommodation processes. For reasons that aren’t due to medical issues, the request will be passed to PCP for their evaluation.

All employees are required to attest to their vaccination status Sept 13 – 22nd via a secure online tool (on MEDA). All employees who attest to being not fully vaccinated will be followed up with directly. Canadian Blood Services wants to support everyone as much as possible and this includes ensuring you have the information you need to make a choice about vaccination prior to October 31st.

In addition, if unionized you may consult with your union representative for additional guidance. Please also continue to reach use the communications@blood.ca for general questions and concerns and your inquiry will be forwarded to the proper contact (PCP, EHS, etc.)

Volunteers, Contractor and Donors FAQs

How can you ensure volunteers are vaccinated?

We are collecting vaccination information from volunteers. After October 1, volunteers will need to have received their required dosage of an approved COVID-19 vaccine before volunteering with Canadian Blood Services.

How can you ensure contractors are vaccinated?

Starting October 6, 2021, contractors with an agreement with Canadian Blood Services must be fully vaccinated before accessing any Canadian Blood Services sites. Fully vaccinated means that any such person must have received the required dosage of a COVID-19 vaccination approved by Health Canada.

In September 2021, the procurement department sent out letters to contractors and service providers to advise of the policy and request confirmation of compliance. A central list of companies who have agreed to comply is being maintained and will be referenced before allowing a company representative entrance to a Canadian Blood Services site.

During the transition period (Oct. 1-31), if contractors have not provided a signed letter then the following are allowable:    

  • Vaccination proof is provided upon arrival; refer to Appendix 1 for guidance.  
  • Proof of negative rapid or PCR testing result within 48 hours of arrival. This option is available until Nov.1, 2021, when all persons who come on-site will be required to be fully vaccinated. 

We are working through alternative options for any critical contractors who are unable to comply. Please note if you or your staff get any questions on the policy, you can advise vendors to submit their questions to COVID19VendorQuestions@blood.ca.

How should short in and out instances, including deliveries from contractors, be handled?

Short contact or in and out services including deliveries, drop-off, pick-up, or providing signatures where the contractor is not entering the facility are excluded from the vaccination verification step. Typically, these engagements are less than 15 minutes and do not require further access into a site. COVID-19 measures such as physical distancing and wearing masks applies. Where feasible, our staff should work with contractors to establish contactless delivery options. The goal would be to minimize contact with delivery company employees wherever possible. 

If contractors show proof of vaccination, do they still need to pass the Wellness Checkpoint?

Yes. Completion of the COVID-19 Wellness Checkpoint and the vaccination verification step are both required and the Wellness Check should happen first.  

Will landscapers, snow removal and waste pick-up trucks be required to complete vaccination verification?

Where there is no requirement to be inside a site or building, there is no requirement to verify the vaccination status of those outside on the property. If there is a requirement to be inside a site or building for more than 15 minutes, these contractors would be subject to the same proof of vaccination requirements as other contractors. If these contractors are inside a site or building briefly, under 15 minutes, they would not have a requirement to provide proof of vaccination. 

Who can request to see vaccination status for contractors?

A small and streamlined number of persons who are staffing operational entrances are required to respectfully verify vaccination status for vendors/contractors/service providers: those who are staffing operational entrances such as Facilities, Security, Shipping/Receiving, Clinic Manager/Supervisor, and employee overseeing the Wellness Checkpoint.

What about contractors entering mobile sites?

Contractors under agreement directly with Canadian Blood Services that are completing work at leased sites or mobiles are required to comply with vaccination verification.  

Requirements for contractors and cleaners provided by the leased or mobile site are still being developed and will be communicated at a future date. 

What about construction sites?

Sites deemed construction sites that are under the care, custody, and control of construction contractors do not have Canadian Blood Services operational entrances and are excluded from the Canadian Blood Services vaccination verification until formal turnover/handover to Canadian Blood Services occurs.

Why require employees, volunteers and contractors to be vaccinated, but not donors?

At this time, a donor’s vaccination status is not required to enter a collection event. As the pandemic landscape changes and evolves across the country, we continue to assess our safety measures and guidance. This includes understanding all considerations pertaining to what a donor policy on vaccination might look like. We are actively doing this now. 

Canadian Blood Services is aware from surveys and from seroprevalence studies that over 90% of donors (of those surveyed and/or tested) are fully vaccinated. We believe this number will increase in the weeks to come.

Continued adherence to our current COVID-19 measures such as PPE and physical distancing, will help provide extra protection to everyone, regardless of donor vaccination status.

What is the guidance for mobile sites that require donors be vaccinated to enter?

Canadian Blood Services has been confirmed as an essential/critical health services provider by the federal and provincial governments for purposes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Provincial proof of vaccination requirement for non-essential services do not apply to Canadian Blood Services’ blood donor events. These events are held for the health-related purpose of allowing us to collect blood required for Canadian patients, rather than for a discretionary or recreational purpose. 

A donor’s vaccination status is not a requirement for entry to Canadian Blood Services’ blood collection events. A letter detailing the exemption will be provided to owners of sites (mobile sites/ permanent sites not owned by Canadian Blood Services) within which a blood collection event is being planned. The site owner will be asked to acknowledge the letter. In situations where the site owner declines to acknowledge the exemption, the following guidelines will apply: 

  • For donors with appointments to attend a collection event, Canadian Blood Services will provide advance notice regarding the site entry requirement requested by the property owner, and emphasizing that donors’ proof of vaccination information is not required, collected or retained by Canadian Blood Services. 

  • The process by which proof of vaccination will be checked prior to entry will be the responsibility of the site location owner, and will not be conducted by Canadian Blood Services employees. 

If you have any questions regarding donor proof of vaccination to enter blood collection events, please contact communications@blood.ca.