Full vaccination against COVID-19 is now mandatory for healthcare workers at long-term care homes and assisted living facilities across the province.
The announcement was made on Thursday afternoon by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix. Part of the reasoning for introducing this measure is due to new strains of COVID-19, specifically the Delta variant.
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“We have the introduction of new variants into the province including the Delta variant and we have seen the impact of that in long-term care where we now have eight outbreaks introduced by unvaccinated people,” Henry told reporters.
“And once it gets into these highly risky settings, it can spread even into those who are immunized and we have seen spread both to residents and staff, causing illness but also disruption in the life of people in long-term care.”
Henry says that mandatory immunization will be a condition of employment for all workers in long-term care and seniors’ assisted living. The requirement will be made through a Provincial Health Order and will apply to all licensed long-term care homes and assisted living facilities, whether they are privately owned, contracted, or owned by public health.
Information on all workers in long-term care will need to be provided to health officials, which will allow them to verify immunization status and have a better understanding of immunization levels by each individual facility.
All workers in all facilities will need to be fully vaccinated by October 12, 2021. In the interim, unvaccinated staff will need to wear PPE and be regularly tested for COVID-19.
Individuals who are not fully vaccinated will also no longer be allowed to volunteer or work as a personal service provider.