COVID-19: Vaccination required for B.C. government workers by Nov. 22

Interior Health has the highest rate of unvaccinated health-care workers, at five per cent.

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B.C. government workers have three weeks to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or face unpaid leave or termination.

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The provincial government is requiring public-sector employees to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22.

Employees who are not able to provide proof of vaccination or refuse to disclose their vaccination status by that date will be considered unvaccinated, said Health Minister Adrian Dix at a news conference on Monday.

Unvaccinated workers who do not have a medical exemption will be placed on unpaid leave for three months. Workers who remain unvaccinated after this period may be terminated.

Those who are partially vaccinated could be offered alternative work arrangements, but will be required to show proof of full vaccination 35 days after their initial dose.

“This is a necessary step to support vaccination and help protect all our workplaces and communities from COVID-19,” said Dix.

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Dix also provided an update on the vaccine mandate for health-care workers in the province.

Out of 127,448 health-care workers, 122,059 or nearly 96 per cent, have been fully vaccinated as of Monday.

Another 1.6 per cent are partially vaccinated, while 2.6 per cent are not yet vaccinated and are on unpaid leave.

Interior Health has the highest rate of unvaccinated workers in the health-care sector with 1,018, or about five per cent.

Four per cent of health professionals in Interior Health remain unvaccinated, while rates at Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health, and Vancouver Island hover at about two per cent.

In terms of the booster-shot program, the B.C. government reported progress in administering third doses to resident in long-term care homes and assisted living facilities.

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“The work is substantially done,” said Dix.

With nearly three dozen facilities dealing with ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks, Henry defended the government’s measures, saying it had waited for data that shows what the optimal interval was between the second dose and the booster shot.

Henry said the outbreaks show the virus can spread among people whose bodies cannot mount a strong immune response, and can enter a facility through unvaccinated health-care workers.

“We are hopeful that with the booster shots… (and other measures) we will start to see that come down,” said Henry.

B.C. implemented two public health orders last week.

The first extended the mask requirement in indoor public spaces in B.C., including places of worship and gatherings of faith groups.

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The second order mandates vaccination for coaches and other adults who work in youth sports.

chchan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/cherylchan


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