5,500 healthcare workers in B.C. unvaccinated a week before mandate goes into effect

Healthcare mandate looms

More than 5,500 healthcare workers in B.C. remain unvaccinated a week before the province’s vaccine mandate for the sector goes into effect.

Anyone who works or volunteers in a public healthcare facility will have to be vaccinated as of Oct. 26.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday of the 129,924 healthcare workers employed by provincial health authorities, 5,512 (4%) remain unvaccinated.

“We are hopeful of course that people will move to get vaccinated and comply with the coming order,” he said.

The Interior Health region has the highest rate of unvaccinated health authority employees at 7%, followed by Northern Health (6%), Vancouver Island Health (5%), Vancouver Coastal Health (3%) and Fraser Health (2%).

Along with the mandate for staff, visitors to acute-care settings like hospitals will have to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 26.

The mandate does not extend to doctors who provide care in private practices. Doctors of BC advocated for mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers. The BC Nurses Union, however, has said it cannot support the mandate over fears it will exacerbate the nursing shortage that predated the pandemic.

The ratio of unvaccinated general healthcare workers is similar to that of the long term care and assisted sector, which saw its mandate go into effect on Oct. 12. Employees in care homes who refused to get vaccinated were placed on unpaid leave and will be terminated in the coming weeks.

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