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B.C. care home visitors must be vaccinated

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:59 PDT, Tue October 5, 2021

As of next Tuesday, visitors to long-term care or assisted living facilities must be fully vaccinated, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today.

And as of Oct. 26, visitors to acute care must be fully vaccinated as well. She added there will be exceptions for some situations like palliative or end-of-life care. 

“Those who are not fully vaccinated will not be able to visit in health care settings, as we go into this time of increased respiratory illness and challenges as well as, as we know, COVID virus,” said Henry.

Additionally, unvaccinated people working in these facilities will be ineligible to work after Oct. 12, and will be off work without pay as of that day. 

The Vancouver Coastal Health region leads the way in staff immunization in these facilities, according to Health Minister Adrian Dix, with 97 per cent of long-term care staff having received one dose and 94 per cent having received two doses. Among assisted living staff in the region, 99 per cent have received one dose and 96 per cent have received two doses.

About 100,000 more immune compromised people will also be getting a third dose of vaccine, and will begin to receive an invitation message, said Henry.

She also said that Health Canada is working on a single, internationally recognized, federal vaccine passport system that would include the recognition of vaccine combinations. And talks are ongoing with the U.S. and other countries on the recognition of combinations.

B.C. will be returning nearly 300,000 vaccine doses, mostly Moderna, to the federal government for use in the COVAX initiative, to help vaccinate those around the world. 

Health officials also reported 593 new cases of COVID-19 today, nine of which are epidemiologically linked. Since the pandemic began, B.C. has recorded 190,372 cases.

Of the new cases, 68 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 203 in the Fraser Health region, 107 in the Island Health region, 128 in the Interior Health region, 87 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

There are 5,937 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 345 of those people are hospitalized, 144 of whom are in intensive care. Dix said today that 120 of those in intensive care are unvaccinated. 

He added that between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2, 241 surgeries were postponed across B.C., including 11 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. Additionally, 32 people in intensive care in the Northern Health region have been transferred to Vancouver Coastal, Fraser, and Island Health; 26 of them are COVID-19 patients and none are fully vaccinated.

To date, 7,894,975 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C.; 3,789,179 of those are second doses. 

This means that 88.8 per cent of adults and 88.3 per cent of people aged 12 and older have received their first dose of a vaccine. In addition, 82.5 per cent of adults and 81.7 per cent of those aged 12 and older have received two doses.

There were no new virus-related deaths reported today, for the first time in a month.

Health authorities reported one new healthcare facility outbreak, and declared one over. Active outbreaks continue at 15 long-term care facilities, two assisted or independent living facilities and two acute care facilities.

For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and to find a testing centre near you: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.

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