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Vaccine mandate for B.C. health-care workers takes effect today

Premier John Horgan says he’s hopeful that a small number of B.C. health-care workers who are still resistant to getting vaccinated against COVID-19 will get the information they need to make the choice for vaccination.
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On Monday, audience limits for indoor organized events and gatherings, including concerts and sports, were lifted with proof of COVID vaccination. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Premier John Horgan says he’s hopeful that a small number of B.C. health-care workers who are still resistant to getting vaccinated against COVID-19 will get the information they need to make the choice for vaccination.

The deadline for all health-care workers in the province to be fully vaccinated is today.

Horgan says the majority of health-care workers are immunized and often perplexed about why others wouldn’t follow the science behind vaccination and the advice of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The vaccine mandate will apply to everyone who works in health-care settings, including students, doctors, contractors and volunteers.

Those who don’t have their first dose by the deadline can’t work unless they have a recognized medical exemption.

Workers who get their first shot before Nov. 15 can resume working seven days after the first dose, but they must wear personal protective equipment and take other precautions until they have their second dose, which must be no more than 35 days after the initial dose.

Staff at long-term care homes and assisted living facilities needed to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 12.

On Monday, audience limits for indoor organized events and gatherings, including concerts and sports, were lifted with proof of COVID vaccination.

Previously, an order restricted venues to 50 per cent capacity for indoor events, which remains in effect for those in Fraser Health, Interior Health and Northern Health regions, where vaccination rates are lower and more people are testing positive for the virus.

Island Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak over at Tofino General Hospital. Six people tested positive in the ­outbreak, declared Oct. 12.

On Monday, British Columbia reported that during the previous three days, there were 1,618 new cases of COVID-19, 20 deaths and five new health-care facility outbreaks. Of those, 186 new cases are in the Island Health region, which has 551 active cases. Of the new deaths, three are in Island Health.

The province says 84.4 per cent of eligible people aged 12 and up are now fully vaccinated.

— With files from Cindy E. Harnett