British Columbia’s top doctor has suggested there may be consequences for individuals who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19.
It remains unclear, however, what exactly those consequences may entail.
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On Tuesday morning, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry shared the next steps in BC’s COVID-19 immunization plan. She was joined by Health Minister Adrian Dix and the executive lead of BC’s Immunization Rollout Team, Dr. Penny Ballem.
Henry stressed that while it is a choice to be immunized, “there are consequences for people who are not immunized.”
“And that’s going to be more important for us as we head into the fall,” she explained. “This virus will increase, as we know that we’re likely to see with other respiratory viruses.”
One example Henry gave pertained to long-term care and assisted-living homes, specifically health guidelines and measures for visitors or staff who aren’t fully vaccinated.
Visitors to long-term care homes who aren’t fully immunized are required to wear a face mask at all times, including when they’re in direct contact with the person they’re visiting.
Similarly, staff members who aren’t fully vaccinated are required to be masked in all areas where they’re providing service to residents and need to be tested on a regular basis.
And while Henry stressed that it’s important to give everybody the opportunity to be immunized first, she hinted that measures for unvaccinated individuals in healthcare would be evident.
“I have very little patience for people who aren’t immunized in healthcare,” she said.
“We’ve had a vaccinator mask policy for influenza. We will have a very similar policy that if people choose not to be immunized and you work in healthcare, then you will not be able to work in certain settings without taking additional measures. There will be consequences for that decision.”
Henry also addressed the idea of businesses such as gyms, nightclubs, or bars requiring vaccinations. While such a rule likely wouldn’t be enforced on a provincial or federal level, she said she supports the idea.
“We’ve had a couple of outbreaks in nightclubs with unvaccinated people,” she explained. “And if I was running a nightclub, I [would] want to make sure that my staff are protected. And yes, we can absolutely say that to come in here, you have to be immunized. And that gives people the level of comfort that they’re in a safer environment, to come to fairs, to festivals, and those indoor environments.”