FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – More than 5,500 healthcare workers across the province are still unvaccinated, and there’s one week until the vaccine mandate takes effect for public healthcare facilities.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says he hopes more healthcare workers get vaccinated at the weekly COVID-19 briefing Tuesday.

Dix says, of the 129,924 healthcare workers in the province, just four per cent are unvaccinated.

“Essentially what we’re seeing with the 96 per cent mark is a very similar number to what we saw in assisted living and long-term care.”

For the 48,879 long-term care and assisted living employees whose vaccine mandate took effect last week, just 1,955 (4 per cent) were unvaccinated.

Broken down into health authorities, the region with the highest rate of unvaccinated healthcare workers is Interior Health (7 per cent), Northern Health is right behind (6 per cent), Vancouver Island Health (5 per cent),  Vancouver Coastal (3 per cent), and Fraser Health (2 per cent).

Unvaccinated workers can return to work, but only a week after receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to health officials. They also must commit to having their second dose within 35 days of the first.

“We are hopeful, of course, that people will move to get vaccinated and comply with the upcoming order.”