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5,226 health-care workers in B.C. remain unvaccinated as new mandate comes into effect

Employees had been placed on leave for two weeks but now face termination if they don’t comply
Around 30 members of the public demonstrated by the side of Highway 97 Tuesday, including Mart Blazina, to stand in solidarity with healthcare workers saying no to mandatory vaccines. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

About 30 people took to the streets in 100 Mile House Tuesday to protest the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, as an estimated 4,000 workers remain unvaccinated in the province and are at risk of losing their jobs if they don’t comply with provincial mandates.

Some 1,186 of the Interior Health region’s 21,675 health care workers - about five per cent - are currently unvaccinated, compared with 1,106 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,054 in Vancouver Island Health, 735 in Fraser Health, 630 in Provincial Health Services Authority and 515 in the Northern Health Authority.

Those who were mandated to be vaccinated by Oct. 12 and did not comply with the order were placed on unpaid leave, but could lose their jobs if they don’t follow the Public Health Order, senior public affairs officer Marielle Tounsi wrote in an email to Black Press Media.

The deadline to get COVID-19 vaccinations was Tuesday, Oct. 26. The order covers doctors, nurses, students, residents, contractors, volunteers and all other health care professionals.

“During this two-week period of unpaid leave, employers will be directly contacting these individuals to encourage them to receive vaccination and to assess their intentions,” Tounsi wrote. “If after a two-week period, these individuals have still refused to be vaccinated, employers will move forward with termination in accordance with their collective agreements.

“The PHO has deemed the Hospital and Community Preventive Measures Order necessary to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This is for patients and staff to increase client/patient safety and reduce the risk of illness and significant staffing challenges.”

The ministry did not have specific numbers for how many health care workers were unvaccinated in the South Cariboo area, saying it is still reviewing the data.

About 19,292 health care workers - 89 per cent - are fully vaccinated in Interior Health, with 765 partially vaccinated. In Vancouver Coastal, PHSA and Fraser Health authorities, 95 per cent of health care workers are fully vaccinated. About 93 per cent are fully vaccinated in Vancouver Island Health Authority and 90 per cent in Northern Health.

The ministry said all Long Term Care and Assisted Living sites have submitted contingency staffing plans based on their site-specific circumstances, which are being monitored and supported by the regional health authorities.

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