Vaccination against COVID-19 will be mandatory for all workers and volunteers at health facilities across the province next month, officials said on Monday.
Provincial health worker Dr Bonnie Henry said the mandate, which extends a previously announced vaccination requirement for employees in long-term care homes and assisted living facilities, will come into effect on October 26.
“We will be implementing a new ordinance that will make COVID-19 vaccination a condition of employment at all health care facilities in British Columbia,” Henry said.
“This includes all workers, students, doctors, residents, contractors and volunteers. “
The requirement also applies to people working in contracted facilities used by patients, and in home and community care settings. Those who refuse will be put on unpaid leave, Henry said.
Workers and volunteers in long-term care homes and assisted living facilities only have until October 12 to get a full vaccine, which means they must have received their first dose by Monday.
Health officials have previously cited an increased risk of serious infection and even death in vulnerable residents, whose bodies may be less able to develop a strong antibody response even after vaccination, as the rationale for this policy.
The number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations has increased dramatically since then, straining resources and forcing staff to delay hundreds of elective surgeries. Authorities said there were 139 coronavirus patients in intensive care as of Monday, 87% of whom are unvaccinated.
“Unfortunately, the choices not to get vaccinated affect our families and communities across the province,” said Henry. “Our healthcare workers deserve better, just like all of us in British Columbia. It is our shared responsibility to get through this next phase of the pandemic. ”
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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