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 requires all Canadian Blood Services employees and fee-for-service contractors to report their vaccination status through a secure online tool on MEDA.blood.ca (September 13-22). 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 by October 31 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 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 applicable security requirements, privacy legislation and our corporate Employee Personal Information Protection Policy (POL013).

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

You will have to report your vaccination status to Canadian Blood Services from September 13-22 through a secure online tool on MEDA.blood.ca. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.)

Volunteer and Contractor 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 third party contractors are vaccinated?

Procurement is advising service providers and contractors providing services to any Canadian Blood Services facility, site or building, that they must be fully vaccinated before coming on site. We are requesting that they acknowledge that they and/or their representatives will comply with Canadian Blood Services’ vaccination policy. 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.