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BC Ferries workers feel ‘betrayed’ after being left off COVID-19 vaccine priority list

Click to play video: 'BC Ferries workers left off COVID-19 vaccine priority list' BC Ferries workers left off COVID-19 vaccine priority list
BC Ferries staff say they feel betrayed after they were not included among the workers who have been put on a priority list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine – Mar 19, 2021

BC Ferries staff say they feel betrayed after they were not included among the workers who have been put on a priority list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The union representing BC Ferries says they are dealing with outbreaks at several facilities.

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Nine employees at the Horseshoe Bay terminal have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. According to the union, there is another cluster at the Tsawwassen terminal and a presumptive case onboard the Northern Expedition, which sails between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert.

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Read more: B.C.’s updated COVID-19 vaccine timeline: When is your turn to get ‘the jab?’

“There’s a lot going on right now and our members are pretty concerned about the way these numbers are trending,” Graeme Johnston, president of the BC Ferry & Marine Workers’ Union said.

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BC Ferries confirmed the COVID-19 cluster at Horseshoe Bay, writing in a statement that they are “working with public health authorities on contact tracing and have been advised by the health authorities that the risk to the public is very low as the employees do not have close contact with the public.”

Ferry workers have been moving people and goods around coastal communities throughout the pandemic but were not included in the list of workers who would get expedited access to vaccination.

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“Today’s announcement felt like a kick in the teeth,” Johnston said. “Many of our members have been calling and writing us, telling us that they feel betrayed by this decision.”

BC Ferries seems to agree, saying it has submitted a request to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to vaccinate staff who interact with the public as soon as possible as they are high-risk workers.

Read more: B.C. may need more COVID-19 restrictions to ‘bend the curve’ again as variant cases rise

“I would imagine that passengers travelling aboard BC Ferries, especially the ones who are doing their own essential work, would feel much safer and much more at ease to know that our workers had been vaccinated.”

The Northern Expedition set sail Thursday night on its regularly scheduled run. According to BC Ferries, there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 aboard.

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