How many education workers and healthcare workers have developed a COVID-19 infection? What workplace, community, individual and household factors are associated with that infection? What percentage of education workers and healthcare workers intend to be vaccinated against COVID-19? What is the psychological impact of working during a pandemic? Dr. Brenda Coleman, researcher at Sinai Health System and assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, and Dr. Allison McGeer, senior scientists at the Lundenfeld-Tannenbaum Research Institute, infectious disease physician at Sinai Health, and professor at the University of Toronto, are looking to answer those questions and more in both the COVID-19 Cohort Study for Healthcare Workers and the COVID-19 Cohort Study for Teachers and Education Workers in Ontario.
Study of the epidemiology of COVID-19 in healthcare workers and their households
The COVID-19 Cohort Study for Healthcare Workers is enrolling healthcare workers (physicians, nurse practitioners, midwives, physicians’ assistants, nurses, or receptionists) working in private medical practices/medical clinics in the Toronto area and select Ottawa, Toronto, and Hamilton area hospitals. The study follows staff throughout the pandemic to find out who does and does not get ill with the virus. It is also studying how many have already been exposed to the COVID-19 virus by testing their blood for antibodies against the virus and how well the vaccine works.
Dr. McGeer says that “one of the differences between this study and others that are being conducted is that we are also looking at households. We are trying to learn about the risk of COVID-19 spreading amongst the people we live with”. Dr. Coleman adds that “this study is critical to understanding the role of our workplaces, our households, and our personal practices on the risk of contracting COVID-19 and the results should help us understand the potential benefits of vaccines”.
For further information about the study, please visit http://www.tibdn.ca/covid-19/ccs to see if your hospital is a part of the study, or http://www.tibdn.ca/covid-19/phys if you work in a private clinic.
Study of the effects of the pandemic on teachers’ and education workers’ health
The study for teachers and education workers in Ontario aims to enroll 7,000 education workers and will follow participants for 12 months. Participants will complete questionnaires about the risks they have faced and the protective measures they have taken. Participation is anonymous and no personal information will be shared outside the study. Participants will be asked to give finger prick blood samples to establish whether they have had COVID-19 and how well they respond to vaccines. They will be told their test results.
“To provide a full picture of the impact of COVID-19 on our education workers we need participants from across the province, including those working in small rural schools, as well as large urban ones,” says Dr. McGeer. “We have over 2000 people taking part in the study now and hope to have the other 5000 by the end of May so we can provide preliminary results before schools open again in September”, she adds.
Everyone working in Ontario’s public and private elementary and secondary schools, including both teachers and all other education workers (e.g., consultants, teaching assistants, administrative staff, early childhood education workers, bus drivers, janitors, and principals) are welcome to join the study. To find out more, visit http://www.tibdn.ca/covid-19/education.