FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Health Minister Adrian Dix says those who are not fully vaccinated are 60 times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19, and he doubled down by saying anyone arguing against vaccinations does not care about other people’s health.

Appearing on Moose Talks on Friday, Dix reinforced the push to increase vaccination rates in the north, as the region grapples with elevated cases, hospitalizations and ICU occupancy. The lack of ICU space has forced Northern Health to send COVID-19 patients to Metro Vancouver or Vancouver Island for ICU care.

“Last week, we announced significant new resources for retention and recruitment of health professionals, but that’s a long-term view,” said Dix. “What we’ve been talking about with Dan [Davies],  Mike [Bernier], Mayor [Lori] Ackerman, Mayor [Dale] Bumstead and others in the region is how we get vaccination rates up.”

Dix says, of the 148 people in critical care, 132 are unvaccinated.

The implementation of the BC Vaccine Card has had a noticeable effect on vaccination numbers in Fort St. John, but Dix says it still needs to be better.

“We want safe environments for people and we want to stop the transmission. But there is one path to do that, and that path is getting vaccinated. And really what people are saying when they’re trying to stop vaccination or protest against vaccinations, whatever their views are for themselves, they’re saying they don’t care about your health.”

Dix says it’s going to be a hard four weeks for healthcare in the north, especially in the Peace region, as it takes a while to reduce transmission when is happening.

“There is a path forward. Right now, we can take these steps to help people and the people who get sick with COVID-19, unvaccinated or not, are getting the best health care in the world. And our health care workers are working full-out to give that, but they would rather be doing other things,” said Dix, alluding to the other healthcare services and procedures that are being put off while dealing with COVID-19 patients.

Nobody is being singled out or discriminated against, says Dix.

“Everyone gets the care. And we don’t judge when people make a mistake in their cars and they get injured. They come in and we give them care. There’s no discrimination for care. But it is frustrating to medivac people who are unvaccinated when the vaccination is available and free.”

When asked about the potential of further restrictions in the Northern Health region, Dix only mentions vaccination rates, the vaccine card and the mask mandate currently in place.