The College has received many inquiries from members regarding the status of vaccination for health care professionals, particularly Psychologists and Psychological Associates. The College continues to monitor vaccine distribution and has been in touch with the Ontario Ministry of Health as we appreciate that many of our members work closely, in-person, with their clients. We are also working with the Health Profession Regulators of Ontario, a federation of the health Colleges of which the College is a member.
At this time, Ontario is in Phase 1 of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. As you are aware, vaccines will be distributed by the local Public Health Units (PHUs). To date, the College has been contacted by two PHU’s requesting information on the number of practitioners within their local areas. The data requested has been solely for the number of practitioners, not names or contact information. This information is being used to assist them plan local vaccine roll out. The College anticipates hearing from the Ministry and other PHU’s regarding the availability of the vaccines to our members. We will be updating out COVID-19 page as more information is received.
Recently, the Ontario Ministry of Health released updated vaccination guidance for health care workers: COVID-19: Guidance for Prioritizing Health Care Workers for COVID-19 Vaccination. This document describes the Ministry’s approach to priority setting and notes that “Health care workers have been identified as a priority population for Phase 1 of Ontario’s vaccination program. The following levels of priority (Highest, Very High, High, Moderate) have been identified by the MOH and should be used to sub-prioritize health care workers.” [p. 7]. The document indicates that Psychology has been designated as “High” priority [p.11].
The College anticipates receiving more information soon regarding the vaccine distribution plans being established by each local Public Health Unit. In the meantime, members wishing to access accurate and up to date information are encouraged to visit the Ontario Government’s COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario webpage and the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine-Relevant Information and Planning Resources webpage. As well, members may wish to review the information provided by their local Public Health Unit about COVID vaccines and roll-out plans. To find the contact information for your local Public Health Unit click here.
While vaccination is not mandatory, being protected from getting and transmitting COVID-19 is encouraged, as this contributes to the safe and ethical care of your patients. The College will continue to monitor the provincial roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations, information from the Ministry of Health and the local Public Health Units and will provide updates as new information and resources become available.
Over the last few weeks, the Ontario government has transitioned some public health regions out of the stay-at-home order while extending the emergency order for others to ensure the health and safety of Ontarians. While some members may be permitted to provide in-person services, because of the region in which they practise, the College strongly urges all members to continue, wherever reasonably possible, to provide services by electronic means. The College recognizes that this may not be possible for all clients/patients but should be considered as the first alternative, on a case by case basis.
Members are encouraged to review both Directive #2, which remains in place, and the COVID-19 Operational Requirements: Health Sector Restart to ensure an understanding of relevant requirements to appropriately prepare for the return to in-person service provision.
To review the College’s previous updates please visit our COVID-19 webpage.
Rick Morris, Ph.D., C.Psych.
Registrar & Executive Director