Across the province, 2% of health care workers are not vaccinated, Adrian Dix said on Tuesday. Since the last update a week ago, the province has added 1,548 more vaccinated workers to the system, leaving 3,071 unvaccinated and on unpaid leave. Dix said he was encouraged by the numbers.
“We hope people continue to get vaccinated,” he said in a live briefing.
COVID-19 vaccination has been mandatory for healthcare workers since October 26.
Dix said that while the health care system is under strain and the province does not want to lose any workers because they are unvaccinated, COVID-19 outbreaks pose a much greater threat to the system.
He also said 288 elective scheduled surgeries had to be postponed over the past week as hospitals grapple with the fourth wave of the pandemic.
In Tuesday’s briefing, Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health official, said that although the virus appears to be spreading to fewer people, the delta variant is highly transmissible and causes more serious illness.
Henry called on everyone to be vigilant with public health measures, including masks in indoor public places.
“We cannot afford to have gaps in protection,” she said.
Henry also urged families to consider smaller indoor gatherings with fully vaccinated loved ones during the holidays.
“If you want to spend time with your extended family and friends, plan an outdoor activity instead,” she said.
Anyone planning to travel this winter should also be “respectful,” said Henry, which means avoiding areas affected by epidemics and being fully vaccinated before hitting the road.
3rd moves ahead
So far, 8.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 3.9 million second doses.
Henry said a limited number of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are expected to arrive in British Columbia early next week, and the priority will be to provide vaccines to healthcare workers who have indicated it is the only one vaccine they will consider.
Everyone in British Columbia will also have access to a third shot over the next few months, according to a provincial government announcement in late October.
By the end of the year, the immunization program will provide third doses to immunocompromised people, long-term care residents and people living with assistance and in rural and remote Indigenous communities.
Persons aged 70 and over and all Aboriginal people over the age of 12, clients of long-term home support and independent living seniors and health care workers who have had a short interval between their first and last days. their second dose will also have the option of receiving a third dose by the end of the year.
From January, the availability of the third dose will extend to clinically vulnerable people and healthcare workers. From there, the rest of the remaining population will become eligible.
Henry also noted that the flu season has started, with four confirmed cases in the community so far. She urged everyone to take advantage of BC’s free flu shot program.