COVID-19: About a fourth of unvaccinated B.C. health-care workers have now received a jab: Dix

Unvaccinated workers in the health-care system have been placed on unpaid leave, and are given until Nov. 15 to get their first dose or get fired.

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About a fourth of B.C.’s remaining unvaccinated health-care workers have now received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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During a news briefing Tuesday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said there were 3,071 unvaccinated workers in the health-care system, down from about 4,000 two weeks ago .

Following an Oct. 26 deadline, these workers have been placed on unpaid leave and were given until Nov. 15 to get their first dose or be fired.

Of the holdouts, 1,032 are casual workers, 989 are full-time employees, 819 are part-time workers, said Dix. Another 16 are not identified.

Overall, 97 per cent of B.C.’s approximately 126,000 public-sector health-care workers are fully immunized, while 98 per cent are partly vaccinated. Rates, however, vary by region. Interior Health has the highest number of unvaxxed workers at five per cent, while Vancouver Coastal Health has one per cent.

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Broken down by job status, allied health workers which include clinical pharmacists, medical laboratory technologists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists have 420 unvaccinated workers, or two per cent.

Nurses and nurse practitioners, as well as personnel in emergency medicine, general medicine, and specialized surgical units, also have a two per cent unvaccinated rate, while unvaccinated workers in internal medicine make up slightly less than one per cent.

Care aides and workers who work in the community as well as paramedics have a slightly higher unvaccinated rate, at three per cent, as do administrative and support staff.

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Dix said the percentage of health-care workers who have been immunized continues to rise.

“It is our hope that people will continue to get vaccinated so we can reduce the number of people who are on leave of absence without pay or have lost their positions,” he said.

Dix said he does not want to lose anybody working in health care because they’re unvaccinated, but noted that the greatest threat to staffing is COVID-19 outbreaks in health care facilities.

“That’s why these mandates are necessary and in place,” said Dix, adding that the high vaccination rate indicates the vast majority of health-care workers agree with the policy. 

Meanwhile, B.C. is expecting to receive a limited number of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government next week, said B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

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She said the first priority for the vaccine will be health-care workers facing vaccine mandates who are willing to get vaccinated with the J&J vaccine.

A limited amount will be available to the public, said Henry.

“We will have some available and we will be providing you with the details next week of how you can access this through a central call-in number.”

chchan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/cherylchan


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