AMA calls for stronger measures to combat COVID-19, including mandatory vaccinations for public gatherings, schools and workplaces

Media Release

October 7, 2021

EDMONTON – On September 27 the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) formally called on Premier Kenney and Health Minister Copping to institute timely, effective public health measures – commonly referred to as a "fire-breaker" – to aggressively control COVID-19 cases to protect our health care system and keep Albertans safe.

There is a lot of good work being done by school boards, businesses and Albertans in their everyday lives. The purpose isn’t to downplay these efforts, but case numbers are still very concerning and the AMA is calling for several additional actions to be taken related to the management of COVID-19 and the functioning of Alberta’s health care system.

In August, the AMA issued a public call for mandatory vaccination of all health care workers, including physicians. The association is now calling for vaccination to be mandatory – where there is no medical contraindication – for all public social gatherings, group employment locations with employees from more than one household and for in-person school attendance for children who are eligible.

The AMA appreciated Tuesday’s announcement from government regarding additional public health measures for schools, but the association does not believe these measures go far enough. AMA President Dr. Michelle Warren said, “We were relieved to see that government is resuming public reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools and that they will be contact tracing and conducting rapid testing for kindergarten to Grade 6 schools experiencing outbreaks. We’re very grateful they have taken these steps, but additional steps should be taken to protect all children. Appreciating the importance of in-person schooling for children, if there is to be an accommodation to mandatory vaccination in children, this should be accompanied by other measures such as frequent testing of unvaccinated students.”

The AMA is also advocating for other measures that will help improve Alberta’s resiliency and responsiveness to the pandemic. This includes increased involvement of physicians and other health care workers in providing COVID-19 policy advice to government and putting proper supports in place for delayed care and the many health needs that are not currently being met.

“While the entire world has been impacted by COVID-19, few jurisdictions are facing the grim reality that Alberta is experiencing right now. Although we know some of the measures we are recommending will be difficult for Albertans, especially when we are all so tired, we believe that we have no other choice. These are strong actions that we know will have serious consequences, but we still believe they are appropriate and are needed to save lives,” said Dr. Warren.

The AMA and provincial government share an interest in wanting to protect Albertans and stabilize the health care system. The association commends government for the leadership they have shown in requiring vaccinations for public sector employees and the additional measures announced Tuesday for schools. The AMA looks forward to coming together urgently to advance these additional actions.

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Contact

Melissa Pennell
Public Affairs Manager
Alberta Medical Association
media@albertadoctors.org

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.