Two operating rooms closed as BC Interior struggles without unvaccinated health workers

Nov 1 2021, 7:57 pm

BC’s Interior Health Region is struggling with the highest proportion of unvaccinated healthcare workers in the province, and two operating rooms are currently closed due to a lack of staff.

Health Minister Adrian Dix revealed the number of unvaccinated healthcare workers across the province during a news conference Monday. Interior Health has 5% of healthcare workers (1,018 individuals) unvaccinated and on unpaid leave.

Hours are being adjusted in Keremeos, where there’s a large proportion of unvaccinated workers in the small community, and Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital has had a number of surgeries postponed.

“This is something I’ve been very concerned about,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said. “There are pockets of communities and places where vaccination rates are just too low.”

Here are the number of unvaccinated workers in each region:

  • Fraser Health: 2%, 587 individuals
  • Northern Health: 4%, 320 individuals
  • Vancouver Coastal Health: 2%, 487 individuals
  • Interior Health: 5%, 1,108 individuals
  • Providence Health: 1%, 104 individuals
  • Island Health: 2%, 480 individuals

Dix added a “very small number” of surgeries had been postponed in Fraser Health over staffing shortages following the vaccine mandate.

The province is reaching out to unvaccinated health workers one by one to understand their questions and hesitations around vaccination, Henry said.

“It varies,” Henry said. “Some people are quite dogmatically against vaccination, which is unfortunate.”

But she remained firm that mandating healthcare workers be vaccinated was the right move to protect patients and their colleagues in hospitals and clinics. Mandatory vaccination rules for healthcare workers took effect on October 26 in BC.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

+ News
+ Coronavirus