82 percent of City of Calgary’s staff are now fully vaccinated

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82 percent of City of Calgary staff are fully immunized against COVID-19, and another four percent have a shot, the city said Friday.

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The statistics are current until Thursday and include all city employees except the police. The figures mean that 14 percent, or nearly 2,000 of the city’s 14,000 employees, are either unvaccinated or have not yet disclosed their vaccination status by the November 1 deadline.

Those who are not fully immunized on Monday will be required to complete rapid tests twice a week with free, home-fast antigen test kits. The cost of rapid testing will be shifted to those employees who are still not fully immunized from December 1st.

Despite the significant number of unvaccinated staff, the city administrator leading the vaccination program said he is happy with the admission and does not expect service disruptions as a result of the policy.

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“So far, we have been very happy with those numbers. These numbers are very high when they reach the mid to high 80s,” said Christopher Collier, the city’s director of environmental and safety management, in an interview with Postmedia.

“In terms of business continuity, we do not expect any problems, but the teams make sure they look at it and monitor very closely.”

The city of Calgary's COVID-19 vaccination bus in downtown Calgary on October 7, 2021.
The city of Calgary’s COVID-19 vaccination bus in downtown Calgary on October 7, 2021. Photo by Gavin Young / Postmedia

Calgary’s workforce immunization figures follow those released by Edmonton on Thursday. In Alberta’s capital, 88 percent of the city’s staff are fully vaccinated, and four percent are partially vaccinated.

The number of jobs in the city of Calgary is slightly lower than the vaccination rates among eligible Calgars. As of Thursday, 84 percent of Calgarians aged 12 and over are fully immunized.

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Collier stressed that the policy will not take full effect until Monday, meaning staff have the weekend to submit their vaccine status. He said the city could not release accurate figures broken down by department or any details of staff layoffs due to the policy until those figures are final.

The city said among Calgary Fire Department employees that 80 percent are fully vaccinated and another two percent are partially vaccinated. For Calgary Police Service personnel, 85 percent have both shots and three percent have only one dose.

Fire Chief Steve Dongworth said he had “no major concern” about the numbers, adding that about 15 percent of the department, or about 229 employees, have not yet revealed their vaccination status.

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The free test kits for staff not fully immunized during the month of November were provided to the city by Alberta Health Services at no cost.

Those who are not fully vaccinated in December should be tested twice a week at their own expense and access their tests from a list of approved suppliers to be determined. Collier estimated that these tests from local pharmacies could cost around $ 40, meaning that these employees would be on the hook for around $ 350 a month for testing.

Collier added that the city offers training to ensure that as many employees as possible adhere to the city’s immunization policy.

“We want to ensure we have a safe workplace and we do everything we can to support our employees,” he said.

In a statement on Friday, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she was “encouraged” by vaccination progress, adding that the only way out of the pandemic is through vaccination.

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“I urge any remaining City employee – and any Calgarian – who has not yet been vaccinated, to do so now,” Gondek said. “While our healthcare professionals work tirelessly on the front lines, we must each take responsibility and do our part. This is a matter of urgency. We must act now. “

The head of the union, which represents Calgary Transit workers, said he did not yet have vaccine statistics, but said he has spoken to “several” employees who have stopped or retired as a result of the immunization policy.

“There are various reasons. Some of them believe in their hearts that they will get incredible catastrophic results from taking the vaccine, and that is what they believe,” said Mike Mahar, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 583.

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“There’s a whole bunch (of workers) who don’t know what to do on Monday. I think the possibility of quick testing probably saved a massive emigration.”

Provincial data indicate that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in preventing infection and serious disease from the virus.

In total, Alberta Health has registered 1,806 people with side effects on COVID-19 vaccines among the 3.27 million Albertans who have received at least one shot, representing only about 0.06 percent of all people who have received a shot. Across all age groups, COVID-19 hospitalizations, intensive care units, and deaths are highest among unvaccinated Albertans.

—With files from Madeline Smith and Dylan Short

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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