VICTORIA — Vaccinations against COVID-19 will be required of all regulated health workers in B.C. under a provincial health order expected to be introduced next week.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the order will take effect March 24 and will bring those workers, including dentists, pharmacists, doctors and chiropractors, in line with others already under vaccine mandates.

Henry says her office has been working with professional colleges since giving notice of the plan in October to expand vaccine mandates to protect those who are under a health workers’ care. 

Under the order, regulated health professionals who are vaccinated with one dose before March 24 may continue to work as long as they receive a second dose 28 to 35 days after their first shot.

The order applies to 29 categories of health practitioners including massage therapists, midwives, naturopaths and nurses. 

B.C. health officials are expected to give an update next week on existing COVID-19 restrictions. 

“I think this is a really important measure that brings the same standard to all health workers across the province,” Henry said Wednesday. 

Henry also says her office will be revising an order to clarify how liquor-primary businesses like bars and nightclubs can provide meals from external sources safely. 

Given how testing and surveillance strategies have changed in the pandemic, she says active cases and numbers of people removed from isolation are no longer accurate metrics and will be removed from daily reports. 

The virus will be with us for “at least another year,” she says, however details next week will focus on how to move forward. 

“You will hear less about the pandemic and more about how we will manage our personal risk as restrictions are adjusted in step with what we are seeing in terms of transmission and hospitalizations.”

The Health Ministry says in a statement that 93.4 per cent of all eligible adults aged 12 and older have had their first dose of vaccines, while 53.7 per cent have had a third dose. 

The ministry reports there are 18 more deaths for a total of 2,725 since the pandemic began. 

There are 893 people in hospital, including 143 in intensive care units. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2022.

The Canadian Press