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More B.C. health care workers getting COVID-19 vaccine to return to work

Booster dose clinics completed in B.C. senior care facilities
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation from the Vancouver cabinet offices, Sept. 17, 2020. (B.C. government)

More than 1,500 more health care workers have received the COVID-19 vaccine since last week, with 98 per cent of nurses and similar numbers in other jobs now at least partially vaccinated, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday.

Dix said the number of partially vaccinated and unvaccinated health care staff is falling in all job categories over the past couple of weeks, when a public health order took effect that put people not fully vaccinated on unpaid leave of absence.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said one-on-one consultations with nurses, care aides and other staff are continuing, and they are being told another option for vaccine is coming. The federal government is shipping a small amount of Johnson and Johnson vaccine, a one-shot treatment, and priority for the B.C. supply is being given to health care workers so they can return to work.

“Some health care workers have said this is the only vaccine they will consider at this time,” Henry said of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. It is a similar formulation to the AstraZeneca vaccine, and offers similar protection, she said.

Of the 2,071 health care workers still not vaccinated, 1,032 are casual employees, 989 are full time and 819 are part-time, Dix said. The largest contributor to staff loss in the health care system remains COVID-19 infection itself, which forces people to self-isolate, he said.

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Booster dose clinics for residents in senior long-term care and assisted living have been completed, and the vaccination rate for all adults is now above 90 per cent, which Dix called “by any standard in the world, exceptional.”

Henry said some seniors in the community are being offered a third COVID-19 booster shot at four or five months after their second dose, rather than the recommended six months. People aged 70 and up are at higher risk of “breakthrough” infections and serious illness even with two doses, and the booster is being offered sooner to give them more protection.

Henry apologized for some confusion about the early booster doses, which older people who are registered are receiving, because not all clinics were aware of the decision to offer them early. The move is also designed to ease the workload for clinics, which are expecting to see the largest number of booster doses from the larger age groups that become eligible starting in December.

B.C. health authorities continue to operate scheduled appointment COVID-19 vaccination clinics around the province. A full list of clinic locations and hours by region can be found here. Registration and booking appointments in B.C. can be done here, or by calling 1-833-838-2323 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. seven days a week.


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