VICTORIA, B.C. – The deadline for healthcare workers to be vaccinated is October 26th, and Health Minister Adrian Dix says those who are unvaccinated will lose their employment over the next few days.

“This has been communicated broadly to employees, unions, employers and to the public,” said Dix, who added that the requirement to get vaccinated in this sector is “an absolute necessity in the healthcare system.”

Dix says the broader healthcare system vaccination requirement is being brought in today, and he gave an update on the numbers of healthcare workers in each region who are still unvaccinated.

Of the 126,343 healthcare workers in B.C., 119,627 are fully vaccinated, 2,626 are partially vaccinated and 4,090 are unvaccinated.

Broken down by region, the Interior has the highest number of unvaccinated workers at 7 per cent (1,369). Northern Health has 5 per cent (376) of its healthcare workers who are unvaccinated.

“This is a necessary step, but a solemn day because it has implications for those people and their families, and for patients and their families. But it is what all of us need to do together to support one another in the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dix says there will be some impact on services like diagnostic imaging or labs in different parts of the province, where offices will have to reduce hours or provide additional staff in the coming weeks.

“We’ve been preparing for this, and in some areas such as long-term care where we’ve hired thousands of workers, close to 6,000 workers in the last year as part of our healthcare program, we’re able to respond more quickly. In areas where people are more highly credentialed and require more time to be trained, it is more of a challenge.”