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B.C. to require all health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19

Last Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:45 pm PDT

Summary

Dr. Bonnie Henry says immunization will be a condition of employment across all healthcare facilities in B.C.

The province has also announced a third dose will be made available to severely immunocompromised people

In the last three days another 1,984 people have tested positive, nine people have died

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — As B.C.’s new vaccine passport came into effect Monday, the province announced all health care workers will soon have to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

All health care workers who work in acute and community care will need to be vaccinated as of Oct. 26. The order will also apply to people who work in-home care but not those who are not employed by the province. They include private practitioners, physicians in the community, physiotherapists.

Details for workers with medical conditions that prevent them from getting the vaccine are expected to be released soon.


According to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, overall vaccinations are high in health care. She says about 96 per cent of doctors are vaccinated and the rate among nurses are in the high 80s-90s.

“This is an important part of us, our responsibility as health care workers … to keep ourselves well and make sure that we’re able to care for people, especially through stressful times like this. But also to ensure that we’re not infecting our colleagues, or potentially bringing it into a setting where we’re vulnerable people we care for may be effective.”

While there is a shortage of health care workers across the country Henry acknowledges this order might add stress.

“But I also know that there’s very, very strong support from our professional organizations around health care workers across this province to ensure that they and their colleagues are vaccinated to best protect each other, but also to make sure that we can continue to deliver care.”

Immunocompromised to receive booster shots

The province has also announced a third dose will be made available to severely immunocompromised people.

“People who are immunocompromised don’t respond as well to any vaccine, and have a reduced ability to fight infection. This means that they may not have responded adequately to the first two doses and given them sufficient antibodies that they would be protected. And this puts them at much higher risk than most of us,” Henry explains.

“For these people, a third dose is needed to give enough protection that most of us would get after our primary series of two doses.”


The province says this group includes about 300,000 people who have medical conditions that make them clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. But a subset of this group are people who are severely immunocompromised of about 15,000 people will be receiving an invitation this week to receive their third dose.

These people will be receiving an invitation through text or email this week for their third dose.

Henry is still urging people who have severe immunocompromising conditions to continue to take precautions to avoid exposure.

The B.C. immunization committee will be reviewing a second group of about 120,000 people who are “moderately” immunocompromised and might need a third dose. This group can expect an update in late September, early October.

“If you did not receive an invitation. You do not need a third dose at this time,” Henry says.

Interior Health restrictions ease 

Thanks to the B.C. Vaccine Passport restrictions in the Interior Health region will be eased, according to Henry.

Last month as the region continued to see COVID-19 cases climb, the province cracked down. Masks were required in all indoor public spaces for people 12+, indoor personal gatherings were limited to one household or five guests, backyard gatherings were limited to 50 people, and indoor organized gatherings such as weddings are also limited to 50 people.

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But with the proof of immunization required to enter non-essential businesses, Henry says, “I’m happy to say that Interior Health restrictions … will now be revised to allow for exemptions to the restrictions for these businesses and events that use the BC vaccine card to ensure attendees are fully vaccinated.”

“That extra layer of protection means that we can now start going back to those activities in Interior Health that had been restricted over the last little while as cases increased.”

COVID cases, deaths over weekend

Over the weekend, nine people infected with COVID-19 died, as another 1,984 people tested positive for the virus.

Fraser Health and Interior Health each accounted for three deaths, one person from Vancouver Coastal Health passed away and two people from Island Health died.

On Saturday 823 cases were recorded, on Sunday there were 641, and there have been 520 in the past 24 hours.

There are 278 people in the hospital, 139 of whom are in intensive care.

“From Sept. 3-9, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 77.8% of cases and from Aug. 27-Sept. 9 they accounted for 86.2% of hospitalizations,” a statement from the province reads.

“After factoring for age, people not vaccinated are 34.2 times more likely to be hospitalized than those fully vaccinated.”

Fraser Health and the Interior Health account for a majority of new cases.

  • Fraser Health: 609 new cases/1,711 active cases
  • Interior Health: 542 new cases/1,618 active cases
  • Vancouver Coastal Health: 319 new cases/945 active cases
  • Northern Health: 294 new cases/931 active cases
  • Island Health: 220 new cases/ 607 active cases
  • Outside Canda : 0 new cases/ 13 active cases

 

There have been two new healthcare facility outbreaks at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (Interior Health) and Opal by Element (Vancouver Coastal Health), for a total of 24 active outbreaks.

 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.