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B.C. ICU doctor wants mandatory vaccination for hospital visitors

Click to play video: 'Royal Columbian ICU doctor calls for vaccine passports for hospital visitors' Royal Columbian ICU doctor calls for vaccine passports for hospital visitors
A critical care doctor is proposing that proof of vaccination be expanded from visiting a restaurant, the gym or going to a Lions game to also include hospital visits. As Ted Chernecki reports, with staffing already at critically low levels, those who work there say they can't afford to lose more doctors and nurses to COVID – Sep 15, 2021

A British Columbia doctor says he wants to see the province’s COVID-19 vaccine card system expanded to include people visiting loved ones in hospital.

Under B.C.’s proof-of-immunization scheme, anyone aged 12 and up need to show their vaccine card to dine at a restaurant, see a sports game or go to a movie theatre.

Read more: COVID-19: B.C. reports 661 new cases, seven more deaths

But Royal Columbian Hospital critical care physician Dr. Rob Sharpe said staff who do screening at hospitals aren’t even permitted to ask visitors if they’ve been vaccinated or not.

“We have to show a vaccine passport to go into a number of businesses and a number of gatherings, and it would just be nice to see a similar level of concern for people who work at hospitals,” Sharpe told Global News.

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“I cannot see why it is not necessary to at least show support for our staff by showing that you’ve been vaccinated to come in and visit family.”

Click to play video: 'How will B.C. government prevent crash in health care system following mandatory vaccination announcement?' How will B.C. government prevent crash in health care system following mandatory vaccination announcement?
How will B.C. government prevent crash in health care system following mandatory vaccination announcement? – Sep 14, 2021

Global News has requested comment from the Ministry of Health as to why the proof of immunization program does not extend to hospital visitors.

Earlier this week, the province announced that all staff in health-care settings will need to be vaccinated by the end of October.

And while a large proportion of those workers are already immunized, the vaccines are not 100-per-cent effective.

Read more: B.C.’s vaccine card comes into effect Monday. Here’s what you need to know

Sharpe said he’s concerned for the safety and wellbeing of the doctors, specialists, nurses and other hospital staff, and about the effect any outbreaks could have on already stretched resources.

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Click to play video: 'Staff shortage concerns after B.C. expands mandatory vaccines to all healthcare workers' Staff shortage concerns after B.C. expands mandatory vaccines to all healthcare workers
Staff shortage concerns after B.C. expands mandatory vaccines to all healthcare workers – Sep 14, 2021

“We’re already rather short-staffed for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that people are getting quite tired and sick in their own right from the significant amounts of care they’ve provided to this point,” he said.

“Any further loss of personnel would be catastrophic – we’re functioning with a skeleton crew as it is at the moment.”

As of Wednesday, 86.1 per cent of eligible British Columbians had received at least one dose of vaccine.

The province has said fully vaccinated people made up just 12.7 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past two weeks. Factoring for age, it said unvaccinated people are 37.9 times more likely to end up in hospital than those who are fully vaccinated.

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