More than a million get B.C. Vaccine Card in two days after unveiling

More than a million people have received their B.C. Vaccine Cards two days after the program was unveiled, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Thursday.

Dix said 1,101,754 unique vaccine card codes have been downloaded. “I think it’s a demonstration of people’s commitment and their individual willingness to support this program,” said Dix. “It’s an extraordinary response in a short period of time.”

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Starting Sept. 13, proof of vaccination will be required to enter many non-essential venues and events — including restaurants, bars, movie theatres and fitness centres.

There are no exceptions for people who cannot be immunized for medical reasons.

The card will not be required in health-care centres, grocery stores, pharmacies, fast-food places or government service centres. Until Sept. 26, the paper record received at vaccination clinics can be used for entry to non-essential venues.

An electronic or printed version of the B.C. Vaccine Card can be acquired by visiting healthgateway.gov.bc.ca/vaccinecard and entering an individual’s personal health number, date of birth and a date of vaccination. The website will generate a QR code — a square-shaped scannable image — that can be downloaded or saved onto a mobile device. Be sure to save or make a screen shot of the card and code before clicking the “Done” button. The code can also be printed.

People without mobile phones have reported that downloading the code on a computer can be a problem.

Dix said the Health Ministry team is “making adjustments every day” and will continue to make improvements.

People without a mobile device, computer or printer can call the provincial vaccine hotline at 1-833-838-2323 to have a printed vaccine card mailed to them. People can also visit one of the province’s 64 Service B.C. centres to have their card printed.

The SMART Health Card technology the province is using is the same as that being used by other provinces that are bringing in vaccine passports, as well for a federal vaccine passport.

So far, the B.C. Vaccine Card QR code only works with the B.C. vaccine card QR reader, but the Health Ministry said in an email that it is working with other provinces and the federal government to potentially align vaccine cards in the future.

B.C.’s proof of vaccination requirement applies to everyone age 12 and older regardless of where they are from.

Visitors from other provinces will have to use the proof of vaccination they have.

International visitors will have an ArriveCAN app and their passports. Students who were vaccinated outside of B.C. will need to submit their records online to obtain a B.C. Vaccine Card.

The province announced 774 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, including 65 new cases in Island Health. That brings the total active cases in the province to 5,594, including 262 people in hospital, of whom 130 are in intensive care.

Of those, 111 had not been vaccinated, 10 were partially vaccinated and nine were fully vaccinated, said Dix.

The unvaccinated in ICUs in the province on Thursday span all age groups, said the health minister.

“This can affect everybody,” said Dix. “With the Delta variant, it is a foolish thing to not be vaccinated.”

As the result of pressure on the province’s health care resources, non-urgent surgeries have been postponed in many health authorities, including Island Health.

Kamloops This Week reported a 70-year-old woman died Wednesday morning. Her family said she was taken with stomach pains to Royal Inland Hospital — where staffing issues have been reported — and was left to wait hours without being seen by medical staff. Dix said the death will be “fully and comprehensively reviewed.”

Seventy-seven per cent of all eligible people age 12 and older are fully vaccinated in the province.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

> More information about vaccine cards: gov.bc.ca/vaccinecard

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