Annie Bergeron-Oliver
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TORONTO –
Two nursing homes in Ontario are dealing with COVID-19 cases at their facilities, even though the vast majority of residents are fully vaccinated, causing relatives to point out unvaccinated staff as a possible underlying problem.

At the Center d’accueil Champlain in Ottawa, 97 percent of residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but at least 36 residents, staff, and visitors have since tested positive for the virus, as health officials have confirmed a B.1.1.7 variant outbreak at the facility .

In a memo sent to Ottawa City Council on Wednesday, Donna Gray, Ottawa’s general manager for community and social services, said some of the people who tested positive for the virus were fully immunized, although it is unclear how many.

“The house continues to be in a facility-wide eruption,” Gray wrote in the memo. “At the moment everyone is stable.”

While the vast majority of residents are fully vaccinated, only 71 percent of employees took at least one dose of the vaccine in mid-May.

“A lot of people don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s not okay,” Danielle Galipeau, whose 87-year-old mother, Jacqueline, lives in the nursing home, told CTV News.

“For me I would say,” You don’t want to get vaccinated, well, you work with old people. “

The Center d’accueil Champlain isn’t the only nursing home where another COVID-19 outbreak is occurring. The Fairhaven facility in Peterborough, Ont. A resident and two employees recently tested positive for the virus. This is the fourth outbreak in the nursing home since the pandemic began.

The resident is fully vaccinated, but only one of the staff received a dose. This prompted the geriatrician Dr. Nathan Stall of Sinai Health to advocate expanding vaccines to nursing home workers.

“Many of the outbreaks are caused by employees who unwittingly introduce the virus through no fault of their own from the community.” He told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday.

“So this is another opportunity to add an extra line of defense by maximizing vaccination among employees.”

To help curb the spread of COVID-19 at the Center d’accueil Champlain, Ottawa Public Health is hosting a staff vaccination clinic later this week. However, the debate about whether vaccines should be mandatory for those working in these positions is growing.

However, some experts warn that in certain workplaces where many people from marginalized groups are employed, mandatory vaccines could do more harm than good.

“We need to build trust in the vaccine by providing them with language-specific information, culturally safe information and making sure we provide them with the vaccine.” said Dr. Amit Arya, Palliative Medicine Specialist and Assistant Professor in the Palliative Care Department at McMaster University in Hamilton.

In other situations, mandatory vaccines are starting to become the norm. At Western University in London, Ontario, a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is mandatory for anyone planning to live in their dormitories this September, with a few exceptions.

“Nobody forcibly puts a vaccine in your arm,” said Maxwell Smith, assistant professor of health studies at Western. “These are the conditions. So if you are going to visit a residence and want to live in a residence, it is a requirement.”

For the relatives of those living in the Center d’accueil Champlain, it was a difficult task to send an elderly relative back into isolation.

“It must be hard for them, they have no activities,” Galipeau said. “We used to take them to restaurants and meet and talk to people, now there is no one to talk to.”

“She’s fine now, but she’s downstairs.” She is used to going out and chatting with people. “

The Center d’accueil Champlain Nursing Home. The hotel is located on Perrier Avenue in Ottawa. (Leah Larocque / CTV News Ottawa)

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