Opposition BC Liberals say COVID booster shots should have gone out weeks ago

Blasted over booster delay

Sixty-two long-term care and assisted living homes in B.C. have received COVID-19 booster shots, with “more to come every day,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday, as the government came under fire for what the Opposition Liberals say is a hazardous delay in boosters in care facilities.

“Vulnerable seniors in long-term care were supposed to be getting their booster shots starting weeks ago,” said Opposition Leader Shirley Bond. She cited an outbreak affecting about 80 residents and 20 staff at Willingdon Care Centre in the Fraser Health Authority that has been responsible for at least 10 deaths. “It only has 95 beds,” she said.

Bond pointed to an internal document from Fraser Health suggesting eligible residents will be offered a third dose by mid-December, which she said is not good enough.

“This is not a supply issue, we know that,” Bond said. “It is a failure to organize the rollout.”

B.C. Care Providers Association president Terry Lake, a former health minister, said in an interview that Alberta has finished its boosters in long-term care and assisted living. Lake said the outbreak at Willingdon could have been prevented if B.C. started when Alberta did.

Ontario started giving boosters to long-term care residents in August, while Alberta began offering boosters in seniors homes on Sept. 1, and Saskatchewan on Sept. 7.

“We have been asking for six weeks,” said Lake. “When [provincial health officer] Dr. Bonnie Henry finally gave the go-ahead, health authorities had no plans in place.”

Henry has said the boosters would coincide with flu shots.

B.C. started giving COVID-19 booster shots to the most extremely vulnerable in mid-September, said Dix.

Boosters in long-term care and assisted living will be completed “long before the middle of December,” he said.

More BC News