B.C. expands vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

Long list now includes dentists, pharmacists, chiropractors, midwives and opticians

B.C. expands vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

As of March 24, 2022, all regulated healthcare professionals in British Columbia must be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to continue to work.

The move follows a similar mandate rolled out in October 2021 for healthcare staff working in long-term care, acute care and community health settings.

“This is a really important measure that brings the same standard to all healthcare workers across the province and is one of the most important measures that has allowed us to manage the omicron wave where we have seen such a… high number of hospitalizations and will help protect us from the unknowns that are certain to happen in the coming years,” says Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.

Regulated health professionals who are vaccinated with one dose before March 24, 2022, may continue to work as long as they receive a second dose 28 to 35 days after their first dose, and there is process in place for medical exemption requests that can be submitted, she says.

“I have spoken many times about the importance of all of us as healthcare professionals doing everything we can, indeed it’s our obligation, to make sure we’re taking all of the measures to protect patients in our care, especially the more vulnerable people that we serve,” says Henry.

“As well, it is important for us to protect our own health as part of being able to continue to contribute into the healthcare of others during this challenging time.”

Canadian HR Reporter recently spoke with an expert about how to handle requests for exemptions from vaccine mandates.

The order applies to a long list of health professionals, including acupuncturists, chiropractors, dentists, dietitians, massage therapists, midwives, registered nurses, opticians, optometrists, pharmacists, physicians and surgeons, and psychologists.

The regulatory colleges will be required to collect information about the vaccination status of their registrants and to communicate to registrants who have not confirmed their vaccination status that they may not provide health services. Colleges must then follow up and investigate any instances where health professionals continue to provide health services not in compliance with the order.

For several months, the B.C. government has been working with health professional colleges to sort through the details of vaccine requirement notice, says Henry.

“It’s ensuring that we have a consistent, supported standard across healthcare so that all regulated healthcare professionals are held to the same standard.”

Recent legal decisions have helped provide clarity for employers on the reasonableness of mandatory vaccine policies.

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