B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for long-term care staff takes effect next Tuesday, Oct. 12, and also applies to visitors to senior homes and hospitals.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed the latest order on Tuesday Oct. 5, saying staff who don’t have a proof of vaccination card or a one of the rare medical exemptions will be placed on unpaid leave until seven days after they receive a first dose of a Canadian-approved vaccine.
The official order gives people one week to get a first dose of vaccine and be eligible to keep working. Those who don’t will be put on unpaid leave effective Oct. 13. New employees hired on Oct. 25 and later also have to be vaccinated.
“It’s not too late to get vaccinated and to be able to continue to work with additional precautions and testing,” Henry said at a briefing in Victoria Oct. 5.
The order also applies to outside health care providers, other service providers such as hair and nail care, and volunteers in senior care. Henry said currently 97% of doctors are vaccinated.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said the vast majority of B.C.’s 46,000 long-term care staff have been vaccinated. In Fraser Health 97% have a first dose and 93% have a second. On Vancouver Island, the vaccine rate is 95% with a first dose and 91% with a second. Vaccination is lower in Northern Health, with 88% first doses and 71% second doses, Dix said.
Henry said the vaccination order also applies to visitors to long-term care and acute-care hospitals, effective Oct. 12. Proof of vaccination will have to be shown for entry to health care facilities.
The order does not cover employers outside the health care system and the B.C. public service, but Henry said she has written to major industrial camp operators, including B.C. Hydro’s Site C dam project and pipeline projects, urging them to require vaccination for entry to their camps.