Vaccines & Rapid Testing

Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to protect you and those around you from serious illnesses like COVID-19. By providing information about COVID-19 vaccination and establishing supportive policies and practices, employers can help increase vaccine uptake among essential workers. Below is a list of frequently asked questions and educational resources to support vaccination in your workplace.

Also found on this page is information about the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Hamilton Rapid Testing’ program, which provides free COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Testing Kits for businesses with fewer than 150 employees.

Vaccination & Workplaces

Businesses and organizations play a critical role in vaccination – helping to build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines and increasing uptake among employees.

Hamilton Public Health has put together a list of frequently asked questions & concerns, as well as additional resources to support vaccination. Click here to learn more.

Given the overwhelming volume of information available on vaccines, the information below (kindly provided by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce) provides companies of all sizes with a single focal point for the information they need to know as employers and the resources they can use to reassure and encourage their employees to get vaccinated.

Knowing the facts about vaccines is critical, which is not always easy given the breadth of resources out there. Vaccines have been robustly tested in clinical trials around the world to confirm their safety and efficacy. There are a number of resources that can provide businesses the facts on vaccines, which will ultimately equip owners and operators to engage their employees.

COVID-19 vaccines authorized in Canada is the Government of Canada’s primary resource page for up-to-date information about the vaccines authorized in Canada.

Vaccine development and approval in Canada is a resource that explains the rigorous scientific process involved in developing a new vaccine and conducting clinical trials as well as the process Health Canada follows to review and approve vaccines. There is also a video available on vaccine development and approval.

Below are Health Canada’s resources for each authorized vaccine, including how the vaccine works, how it is administered, possible side effects and vaccine safety after authorization:

Vaccines are very safe, but as with all medicines, there is the potential for side effects after administration. Possible side effects for COVID-19 vaccines are very minor and may include redness, soreness or swelling on the arm that received the shot, tiredness, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills and mild fever.

Read more about vaccine safety and possible side effects.

There are active ways employers can help their workforce get vaccinated since it is ultimately the collection of individual and company-level decisions that make a difference. Depending on your company’s financial capacity, there are several practical things your company can do to help your employees get vaccinated:

  • Offer paid time off to any employee to get vaccinated. Potentially as much as four to six hours depending where vaccine clinics are located.
  • Provide a transportation voucher (i.e. Uber/Lyft gift card, bus pass) to help cover your employees’ transportation costs to and from a vaccine site.
  • Reimburse the employees’ childcare expenses during their vaccine appointments up to a certain amount.
  • Offer internet access or language support services to help employees schedule their appointment when it becomes available.
  • Provide information to your employees on the local public health or provincial vaccine timelines via email or printouts on a staff board in a common area.
  • Offer paid leave of one to two days if needed after vaccination.

Companies should also start thinking about how to appropriately collect vaccine KPIs amongst their workforce while respecting the privacy of their employees. One option could be undertaking voluntary surveys to understand whether their workforce has received one or two doses of the vaccine, if they intend to receive the vaccine or if they prefer to not disclose.

It is also critical to manage expectations for those who get vaccinated with their first or second dose. You should ensure your employees can expect public health guidance to continue to focus on handwashing, masks and physical distancing. This will help manage expectations and reduce any issues with workplace tension between those who are vaccinated and those who are not.

Whether by staff meetings, emails or casual 1:1 conversations, employers have countless touchpoints every day to speak with their employees about vaccines. The choice to get vaccinated is ultimately with the individual, but the conversations you have will affect not only your employees but also the information they share with their friends and family about vaccines.

These are the top tips for talking to your employees, which have been adapted from the Health Action Alliance:

  • Listening Is Key: You need to have a conversation with your staff rather than a debate. Their decision to get vaccinated is theirs to make, which should always be acknowledged. Focus on being inviting and respectful and encourage them to look at information from respected sources.
  • Lead with Empathy: It is important to acknowledge people’s concerns given it has been a difficult time for Canadians during the pandemic. It is okay for people — even you — to have questions about vaccines given the rate at which news changes and the wide number of voices in media and social media. Do not be condescending. Instead, support your staff taking time off for their vaccination or helping their family members.
  • Facts about Safety Matter: Speak in plain language with people. Provide facts from reputable sources but don’t make up what you don’t know or use information from unreputable sources, particularly on social media. You also cannot provide medical advice to people’s unique health circumstances.
  • Be Authentic: Share why you have decided to get vaccinated and why it is important for you and your family.

To download a one-page Talking to Your Employees about Vaccines Guide, click here.

Rapid Testing Programs

Local businesses are encouraged to pick-up free workplace self-screening (rapid test) kits for their business. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s free.

These local rapid testing programs provide small- and medium-sized businesses in Hamilton (incl. Flamborough, Stoney Creek, Binbrook, Elfrida and Winona) with free COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Testing Kits for their workplace.

The rapid testing kits are free and are available for SMEs with fewer than 150 employees. Businesses with over 150 employees are asked to order directly from the Ontario government portal.

The goal of the program is to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace that might otherwise be missed, helping to curb the spread in the workplace, at home and around the community in Hamilton.

This benefit for businesses is made possible through the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative – an initiative with the Ontario Chamber Network.

 

HAMILTON:

The Hamilton Rapid Testing pick-up centre is located at 44 Frid Street and operates from Tuesday to Thursday, 10 am to 3 pm. Kits cannot be picked up without an appointment.

 

 
STONEY CREEK:

The Stoney Creek Rapid Testing centre is located at the Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce office (21 Mountain Avenue South). Kits cannot be picked up without an appointment.