Canada

750 AHS employees seeking vaccination exemptions

CALGARY –

AHS head Dr. Verna Yiu said roughly 750 of her staff are seeking exemptions from the service’s vaccine requirements on medical and religious grounds.

She said the claims are equally split.

But a legal and public health policy professor says the odds are against them.

“I think that the religious beliefs, or religious arguments will get narrow, for sure. I think that the medical exemptions will get narrow,” said U of C’s Lorian Hardcastle. “I think ultimately of course none of those are absolute barriers to getting vaccinated.”

Health exemptions are already well defined and rare. According to an AHS guidance document for physicians, even among people considered “highly allergic” to vaccine components, severe reactions are very rare, about .7 per cent of the subgroup.

Religious exemptions could be even harder to come by.

“In Alberta, I’d be surprised if there’s more than 100 people influenced by this and these are in very small churches and these are churches that on the whole, are independent congregations and groups that belong to a denomination,” said Irving Hexham, professor of Religious Studies at U of C.

Health exemptions are already well defined and rare. According to an AHS guidance document for physicians, even among people considered “highly allergic” to vaccine components, severe reactions are very rare, about .7 per cent of the subgroup.

“Christian Science that have philosophical approach to the world and they believe that you didn’t need any sort of modern medicine but they’ve moved away from that and the Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to accept vaccines,” Hexham said.

The premier said in a Facebook Live appearance Wednesday night that the vaccination requirements should not be seen as something new for health workers.

“I think there are six different diseases for which there is a mandatory vaccination requirement to go and work at Alberta Health Services, be it as an orderly ER nurse or a physician,” Jason Kenney said. “So what AHS has decided to do is simply to include COVID-19.”

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