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‘Looking at all options’: B.C. not ruling out vaccine passports

Click to play video: 'Dr. Bonnie Henry says province is looking at COVID-19 vaccine passport options' Dr. Bonnie Henry says province is looking at COVID-19 vaccine passport options
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is asked by a reporter at Thursday's briefing about B.C.'s plan to use a proof-of-immunization program like Quebec. – Aug 5, 2021

British Columbia’s top health officials have left the door open to the possibility of “vaccine passports” amid surging new COVID-19 cases.

On Thursday, Quebec announced plans to move forward with a proof-of-immunization program that Premier Francois Legault said would allow vaccinated people to “live a somewhat normal life.”

Asked about the program that same day, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province was “looking at all options.”

Click to play video: 'Impact of the Delta variant' Impact of the Delta variant
Impact of the Delta variant – Aug 5, 2021

Read more: COVID-19: Growing support for mandatory vaccination of B.C. health-care workers

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“What we have said is we will not be denying people essential services based on their vaccination status,” Henry told reporters at a news conference.

“But I’ve also said very clearly that there are some services where people who work in those industries — we think of health-care as an essential public service — that we need to make sure we are protecting health-care workers, protecting the health-care system and the people we care for.”

Click to play video: 'Quebec to detail vaccine passport system in the coming days amid COVID-19 spike: Legault' Quebec to detail vaccine passport system in the coming days amid COVID-19 spike: Legault
Quebec to detail vaccine passport system in the coming days amid COVID-19 spike: Legault – Aug 5, 2021

In response to another question about whether the province could require proof of vaccination for access to places such as bars, restaurants and large indoor gatherings, Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C.’s priority remains making it easier for people to access their own vaccine records.

But he also suggested there could eventually be repercussions for people who choose not to be vaccinated.

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“You are not obliged to be vaccinated in B.C. or anywhere else in Canada,” Dix said. “But there are consequences if you don’t, and I think everyone will have to understand that.”

Read more: Quebec moves towards vaccine passport after another spike in COVID cases

Like Henry, Dix also hinted at a possible policy change regarding the vaccination of health-care workers.

“It will be increasingly necessary, in many workforces, particularly in health care, to be able to demonstrate that you’re vaccinated, because there will be consequences if you’re not,” he said.

The comments come after the Canadian Nurses Association and the Canadian Medical Association threw their support behind mandatory immunizations for health-care workers.

Click to play video: 'Potential pitfalls of a domestic vaccine passport' Potential pitfalls of a domestic vaccine passport
Potential pitfalls of a domestic vaccine passport – Aug 4, 2021

As of Wednesday, 81.5 per cent of eligible British Columbians had received one dose of vaccine, while 67.9 per cent had been fully immunized.

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However, the pace of vaccination has slumped in recent weeks. Just 4,146 people received a first dose between Tuesday and Wednesday, while 25,358 people got a second dose.

At some points in May and July B.C. was averaging more than 60,000 first and second doses, respectively, per day.

Earlier this month, polling by Nanos Research suggested that more than three-quarters of Canadians at least somewhat support denying unvaccinated people access to public gatherings.

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