COVID-19 vaccines to be mandatory for workers in B.C. public service and long-term and assisted care –

COVID-19 vaccines will soon be mandatory for thousands of employees in B.C.’s public service and in long-term and assisted care, the province announced Tuesday.

bc covid update oct 5 2021

Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix provide a COVID-19 update for Oct. 5. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

COVID-19 vaccines will soon be mandatory for thousands of employees in B.C.’s public service and in long-term and assisted care, the province announced Tuesday.

The B.C. Public Service Agency said Tuesday in a statement anyone working for the public service will need to have had both shots by Nov. 22.

“As more employees return to their regular workplaces later in the fall, this provides an additional and reassuring layer of protection for workers who are continuing the vital work of serving British Columbians,” the statement said.

Roughly 30,000 people work in public service in B.C.

Those staff working “in core government or ministries” will be required to provide proof of full vaccination with their vaccine cards.

The province said it will be releasing guidance in early November for “the few people who are unable to be vaccinated.”

Off work without pay

In a news conference later in the day, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced there would be an order coming into effect Oct. 12 that will require all long-term care and assisted living workers to have a first dose.

Workers who are unvaccinated by end of day on Oct. 12 will have to take a mandatory leave of absence without pay, she said.

sunny weather

A man walks through Vancouver on Sept. 28, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Starting Oct. 12, visitors to long-term care homes will also have to show their vaccine card. On Oct. 26, all health-care workers in B.C. and visitors to acute care facilities must also show proof of vaccine.

3rd dose for immune compromised expanded

Henry also announced the province would be expanding the group of immunocompromised people who are eligible for a third dose of the vaccine.

In September, a third dose was announced for 15,000 people in B.C. who were among the most clinically vulnerable, including people who have had whole organ transplants, bone marrow transplants and stem cell transplants, those with blood cancers and certain immune disorders. 

During Thursday’s news conference, she announced that group would be expanded to include 100,000 people considered moderately to severely immunocompromised who would also receive an invitation for a third dose.

The expanded group includes people receiving treatment for tumours, systemic therapy like chemotherapy and radiation for cancer, people with arthritis, lupus, and other autoimmune conditions.