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Some delays to school busing possible as vaccine mandate kicks in

Today is the last day for provincial employees falling under Nova Scotia's mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy to provide proof of their first dose
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(Stock photo)

The province says there may be some issues with school busing in Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) as the Nova Scotia's vaccination mandate kicks in.

This is the final day for provincial employees falling under the mandatory vaccination policy to provide proof that they've had at least their first dose. 

It applies to most employees in sectors including health care, corrections and education.

Those that don't meet the requirement face consequences, including unpaid leave. Those only partially vaccinated will still need to get their second dose and may be subjected to other health and safety measures, including testing.

"In HRCE, drivers may be assigned to new routes and one driver may need to cover an additional route before and after school, leading to potential delays for students," the Department of Health and Wellness said in a news release. 

"Families will be notified if there is a change or delay to their child's bus route."

The department says the latest data shows 99 per cent of frontline healthcare, continuing care, paramedics, education employees' and others in the COVID-19 vaccine mandate have at least one dose of vaccine.

In addition, 99 per cent of provincial government employees are at least partially vaccinated.

"I'm told there will be few disruptions to service as vaccination rates are very high," said Premier Tim Houston.

The province says all affected organizations have contingency plans to deal with the potential of staffing shortages, "but most are anticipating they will not be needed."

However, in addition to school busing, another area that may be impacted is long-term care facilities and home-care agencies.

The province says, although vaccination rates are high, "existing workforce shortages mean that even a small number of unvaccinated staff could result in a facility or agency not being able to accept new residents or seniors."

"Contingency plans could include using employment agencies and travelling nursing staff and offering part-time and casual staff full-time employment."

As of the end of November 29:

  • Nova Scotia Health Authority: 96.5 per cent fully vaccinated (up from 95 per cent on November 24), 3.1 per cent partially vaccinated, 18,726 total employees with 91.3 per cent reporting (up from 90 per cent)
  • IWK Health Centre: 99.2 per cent (no change), 0.6 per cent partially vaccinated, 3,573 total employees with 99.4 per cent reporting (no change)
  • long-term care: 96.1 per cent fully vaccinated (up from 95 per cent), 2.1 per cent partially vaccinated, 11,027 total employees with 98.0 per cent reporting (up from 95 per cent)
  • home care: 95.3 per cent fully vaccinated (up from 95), three per cent partially vaccinated, 3,821 total employees with 97.1 per cent reporting (up from 97 per cent)
  • education: 97.8 per cent fully vaccinated (up from 97 per cent), 1.3 per cent partially vaccinated, 18,726 total employees with 96.4 per cent reporting (up from 90 per cent)
  • Emergency Health Services (EHS): 98.8 per cent fully vaccinated (no change), 0.8 per cent partially vaccinated, 1,353 total employees with 100 per cent reporting (up from 92 per cent)
  • adult day programs (Seniors and Long-term Care): 94.6 per cent fully vaccinated (up from 94 per cent), no employees partially vaccinated, 76 total employees with 97.4 per cent reporting
  • correctional services: 98.7 per cent fully vaccinated (no change), 0.8 per cent partially vaccinated, 527 total employees with 99.4 per cent reporting
  • Community Services (Disability Support Program and Child and Youth Caring Program): 93.9 per cent fully vaccinated (up from 93 per cent), 4.4 per cent partially vaccinated, 8,269 total employees with 97.2 per cent reporting
  • daycares: 94.5 per cent full vaccinated (up from 93 per cent), 3.8 per cent partially vaccinated, with 97.1 per cent of facilities reporting
  • Hearing and Speech NS: 99.4 per cent fully vaccinated (no change), no employees partially vaccinated, 173 total employees with 100 per cent reporting.

Twenty exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate were granted:

  • two granted of 134 human rights exemption requests
  • 18 granted of 49 medical exemption requests

Note: This story was updated after the province corrected the total number of Nova Scotia Health Authority employees and the percentage of fully vaccinated EHS employees.



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Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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