COVID-19: BC cancels some operations due to shortage caused by unvaccinated workers: Minister

Dr. Bonnie Henry says health workers who do not recognize the importance of vaccines in the fight against the pandemic may not be in the right profession.

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VICTORIA – BC hospitals are postponing some surgeries due to lack of staff created by unvaccinated health workers who have been put on unpaid leave, says Health Minister Adrian Dix.

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Dix said Monday that 3,325 health workers across the province have not been immunized against COVID-19 and are in violation of the government’s proof-of-vaccination policy, which went into effect last month.

The shortage of staff will result in reductions in hospital operating services in Fraser’s home and health services, while increased demand for health care has forced surgical delays in many other parts of the province, he told a news conference.

“Across BC, the vast majority of our operating rooms continue to run, but due to a number of challenges, there have been some reductions,” he said. “Kelowna General Hospital has reduced two operating rooms this week to compensate staff who did not meet the vaccination requirements, who are on unpaid leave.”

Dix mentioned hospitals across the province facing staff pressures, including those in Kamloops, Abbotsford, North Vancouver, Richmond and New Westminster.

He said of the 127,448 health workers in the province that 122,059 have been fully vaccinated, while 2,064 have received a vaccine dose.

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Of the 3,225 health care workers who have not been vaccinated, five percent are in Interior Health and four percent in Northern Health, Dix said.

The province’s health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said officials have spoken to health professionals in one-on-one meetings about their vaccination problems, but some remain strongly opposed to the vaccines.

“Some people are pretty dogmatic about vaccines, which is unfortunate,” she said.

Henry said vaccines are considered a lifesaver during pandemics.

“If people are in our healthcare system and do not recognize the importance of vaccination, then this is probably not the right profession for them, to be honest,” she said.

Henry also announced that people in BC who received two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will soon be notified that they are eligible to receive a booster shot within six months of their second vaccine.

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On Monday, the BC vaccination rate reached 90 percent for all eligible individuals aged 12 and up to their first dose. The double vaccination percentage is 85.3 per cent.

1,370 new cases were reported on Monday over a three-day period from Friday, bringing the number of active cases to 4,668. Another 25 people have died, raising the death toll to 2,181.

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The BC government also introduced its final proof-of-vaccine policy on Monday for civil servants. It requires government employees to provide proof of vaccine status by November 22 or face being put on unpaid leave for three months and possible future termination.

The policy applies to any employee working in the public service, whether they work from home or work remotely.

The government says in a statement that workers who have been given a dose of a vaccine may be offered alternative work arrangements and will be required to provide proof of full vaccination within 35 days of receiving their first dose.


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