Social workers, sheriffs and administrative assistants are among the roughly 30,000 government employees in British Columbia who will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs.
The BC Public Service Agency said Tuesday that a November 22 deadline was set for workers in central government ministries or services to show proof of being fully vaccinated with the BC vaccination card.
Paul Finch, treasurer of the British Columbia General Employees Union, said he has supported vaccines but wants to see the full policy to understand how exemptions and accommodations will be handled.
“We have been advocating strongly for strong health measures. We campaigned and asked for a mask mandate and we got it,” he said, adding that members want all workers to wear masks, not just those who work with the public.
Provincial Health Official Dr. Bonnie Henry said there will be consequences for workers at BC’s long-term care and assisted living facilities if they decide not to get vaccinated, and the first deadline for them is set for the next week according to a previously announced policy.
“People who are not eligible to work after October 12 because they have not yet received at least one dose will be out of work, from that day on, without pay,” he said. “If you do, then you decide to get your first dose, it will be seven days before you can work, with extra precautions.”
Workers should receive their second dose 35 days after the first injection, Henry said.
Anyone hired at high-risk facilities after Oct. 25 will need to be fully vaccinated and official medical exemptions will be needed for those who are not immunized, Henry said.
“We know that vaccination rates are high, but in some places they are not high enough yet.”
Health Minister Adrian Dix said health authorities report that up to 94 percent of long-term care and assisted living workers have received both doses of a vaccine, as in the case of employees in Vancouver. Coastal Health. But that number is only 79 percent in the Northern Health region, of which 26 COVID-19 patients have been transferred to intensive care units in other parts of the province. All of them were not vaccinated, he added.
Nearly 82 percent of eligible British Columbia citizens age 12 and older have received both doses of a vaccine, the province said Tuesday. It reported 593 new COVID-19 cases and said those who weren’t fully vaccinated accounted for 78 percent of hospitalizations in recent weeks. There were no new deaths.
Public service employees in British Columbia should get vaccinated against COVID-19. #BCPoli # COVID19 # Covid19vaccine
Henry also updated a policy for visitors to long-term care facilities on Tuesday, saying they must get vaccinated starting Oct. 12. Those entering acute care centers must receive both doses by Oct. 26, according to a vaccination order. for employees there.
He called on British Columbia residents to gather in small groups on Thanksgiving and be particularly mindful of older family members and the immunosuppressed.
The province began providing booster shots to the elderly in long-term care facilities this week and is now preparing to give third doses to another 100,000 people, including those who are severely and moderately immunosuppressed. People who are on dialysis or have severe kidney or kidney disease will also be notified when they can expect to receive their third injection.
Henry said information on booster shots for other people, including First Nations, people over 60, and health workers who were vaccinated early, is expected to be provided by the end of the month after continuing the consultation. with a national advisory panel on vaccination.
He said the decision by some mayors in the Northern Health region to promote vaccination as a personal choice could have more negative results in the area, where intensive care units have been overwhelmed.
“Choice is one thing, but choice has consequences. And when those choices you make have an effect on the rest of the community, that has implications and you cannot do certain things. And that is the goal of the BC Vaccine card.”
– By Camille Bains in Vancouver
This Canadian Press report was first published on October 5, 2021.