There has been a flurry of announcements in the past 48 hours. Let’s take stock of the current situation.
The province has announced that proof of vaccination (a BC Vaccine Card) will be required to access a wide variety of discretionary indoor activities including dining at restaurants, attending sporting events, using the gym, and going to a movie. Organized gatherings such as weddings, parties, conferences, meetings and workshops are also included. The mandate takes effect on September 13 (one dose required) and by October 24 individuals will need to be fully vaccinated to participate.
A mask mandate has been reintroduced for indoor settings across the province on a temporary basis.
K-12 school guidance has been released, and includes a mask mandate for grades 4 through 12. Post-secondary institutions are covered by the general provincial mask mandate.
Doctors of BC supports all of these measures. They are proportional and appropriate given the circulation of highly transmissible variants such as Delta, the continued increase in case counts throughout the province especially the Interior, and the reduced capacity of the healthcare system owing to staffing shortages, fatigue, and burnout. Our members on the ground gave their feedback, and they were heard.
It’s worth a moment to express appreciation to the physicians, team members, and support staff who made all of these announcements possible. It is difficult to understand the pressure, coming from all quarters, to deliver something that even comes close to pleasing everyone while staying true to professional and scientific principles. Thank you.
Doctors of BC does want to highlight that unvaccinated workers in the healthcare, education, and childcare sectors constitute an ongoing gap in the layers of protection for our communities. BC doctors are expressing frustration that some outbreaks, particularly in vulnerable populations, have been triggered by unvaccinated staff. Significant numbers of young children also remain ineligible for vaccination. They rely on the adults around them to be vaccinated to protect them. Doctors of BC calls on the provincial government to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all healthcare, education, and childcare workers while highly transmissible variants remain present in the community in among significant numbers of unvaccinated or immunocompromised vulnerable people.
In addition, with the growing number of employers, venues, and institutions implementing vaccine mandates, it is becoming clear that full participation in society will require vaccination—at least for now. Doctors of BC is implementing its own vaccine mandate: Our employees will need to be vaccinated to work on-site. 98% of our staff are already fully vaccinated or will soon receive their second shot. Doctors of BC encourages other employers to follow our example, and calls for the provincial government to take the necessary steps to make these policies easy to implement and enforce.
The measures announced this week, and the measures called for by Doctors of BC, are not needed forever, but they are needed right now. We appreciate the efforts of our public health colleagues, our physicians in clinics, hospitals, and labs across BC, and all BC healthcare workers as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.