B.C.'s vaccine mandate for long-term care staff and visitors now in effect
Nearly 2,000 workers in long-term and assisted care facilities in B.C. still haven't gotten a single COVID-19 vaccine dose, the province's health minister says.
Adrian Dix gave the update on the same day B.C.’s vaccine mandate for long-term care and assisted living workers came into effect.
As of Tuesday, all employees of long-term care and assisted living facilities need to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who choose not to comply will "be subject to progressive discipline up to and including termination," Dix said during an afternoon news conference.
Dix reported that of the 48,879 staff members who have recorded their vaccine status with their employers, 46,924 – or 96 per cent – have had their first shot.
Meanwhile, 93 per cent are fully vaccinated.
"We know these are settings where transmission causes strain on the system if health-care workers are infected, but also can mean transmission to those who are most vulnerable to severe illness," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.
"Few know better than those working in long-term care and assisted living what the impact of COVID-19 has been on our seniors and elders, particularly those who live in long-term care."
Advocates have been calling for the policy for months now, as the Delta variant runs rampant in the province and outbreaks in long-term care continue.
The B.C. Care Providers Association supports the policy, however a significant number of workers are still refusing to get vaccinated.
Workers who have only received one dose will have to undergo rapid testing daily, and must receive their second shot within 35 days of their first.
The province initially said all workers must be fully immunized by Oct. 12, but relaxed the mandate after operators pushed back.
Facilities already struggling with staffing shortages say losing any workers will be a huge blow.
Staff aren’t the only ones being impacted by this new mandate.
Visitors will now also need at least one dose, and must be fully immunized by Nov. 30. Experts are hopeful both mandates could be key for preventing more deaths.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ben Nesbit