An arm being vaccinatedChildren’s aid society workers in Windsor, whose work requires daily in-person visits to multiple private homes, schools, and other congregated settings, call on Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, to use his authority to authorize vaccine prioritization for frontline workers as has occurred in other regions of the province.

“Frontline children’s aid workers may visit up to ten different homes in a single day. A considerable amount of these homes are in areas identified for prioritization under Phase 2”, says Craig Hesman, President of CUPE 2286. “Children’s aid workers are taking on considerable risk in order to protect children and support families—they must be vaccinated immediately during Phase 2. The health unit must recognize inequalities in our region’s current vaccine rollout plan. We’ve received reports that workers in other public service organizations, who are now working exclusively from home, are being vaccinated. We don’t believe those who are working from home should be prioritized over those who are taking daily risks while they are working to serve vulnerable youth and families of our community.”

CUPE Local 2286 reports that at least two CAS workers have contracted COVID-19 on the job. Local health units have the ability to prioritize certain demographics or cohorts of their respective region based on how COVID-19 has uniquely impacted their area.

“The nature of our work puts us in close quarters with families in their homes. Inside their private dwellings, workers wear full PPE and social distance as much as physically possible; however, workers are not always able to ensure that families are adhering to health and safety protocols. Additionally, not all homes are equipped with appropriate ventilation to qualm the spread of COVID-19,” says Karolyn Gagnier, Vice-President of CUPE Local 2286. “Vaccinations are urgently needed to help mitigate risk to frontline children’s aid workers and the children and families they support.”

The local has reached out to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to ask for inclusion in Phase 1 of the region’s vaccine roll-out. To date, the health unit has declined to vaccinate frontline children’s aid workers in the region.