Health officials in British Columbia are going ahead with requiring all regulated health professionals to disclose their vaccination status to their respective regulatory colleges, though the province has recently abolished a rule that would require them to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to stay on their jobs.
Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said earlier in April that she wants to give comfort to patients when they choose which medical professionals to see in the community, reported The Globe and Mail.
In a statement, the Office of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) said it “is taking steps to support people in B.C. to make informed decisions about their own care with respect to whether or not to see an unvaccinated health provider in private practice in the community.”
“The purposes of this PHO order are to determine the level of vaccination in each health profession as a whole and to understand the distribution of vaccination in health professionals across the province.”
Henry had issued an order on March 7 requiring B.C.’s health practitioners to register their vaccination status with their respective health regulatory bodies by March 31, saying that an unvaccinated registrant who provides services “puts persons at risk of infection” with COVID-19, and “constitutes a health hazard.”
The order covers 26 regulated health professions governed by 18 colleges in the province.
However, information on individual practitioners will not be made available to patients, and will only be provided as an aggregated vaccination rate for each profession, the B.C. Health Ministry said in a written statement to the Vancouver Sun.
“The vaccination status of individual regulated health professionals will not be published by the provincial health officer or colleges,” it reads. “The provincial health officer will make aggregated vaccination rates by regulated health profession publicly available.”
This represents a change from Henry’s original plan, announced in October 2021, that would require all health-care employees in B.C. to be vaccinated in order to work.
The plan would have barred unvaccinated health professionals from continuing their jobs as of March 24.
While that plan was scrapped roughly a week before it entered into effect, close to 2,500 nurses, aides, and other hospital support staff were fired for not receiving the shot as of March 22.
The Health Ministry also said 2,582 employees in public-health care settings have been terminated due to non-compliance with the mandate. This includes 927 employees from Interior Health, 474 from Fraser Health, 393 from Island Health, and 304 from Northern Health, reported the Globe.
The ministry said in its statement that Henry will be able to provide statistics on vaccinations by college “soon,” once all the professional bodies have recorded and collated the vaccination status of their registrants and had the opportunity to provide the data reports to the PHO.
She said in her public order that she has the authority to take action if the colleges don’t comply.
Last month, the province announced the lifting of a number of pandemic-related restrictions, including mandatory indoor masking and the easing of restrictions on long-term care visitors, faith gatherings, and overnight camps for children and youth. B.C. also set the date of April 8 to end its proof of vaccination program.