A pandemic good news story: immunizing BC’s essential manufacturing workersLisa Thibault
“This is not a joke.” Wayne Arondus, Chief Operating Officer at the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, started calling members about an opportunity to immunize their staff against COVID-19, but he encountered some skepticism.
“Some of the people I talked to thought I was pranking them!” said Wayne. “A couple even called the office to confirm I worked here.”
When Vancouver Coastal Health contacted the Alliance looking for support in getting the word out to manufacturers about an opportunity to immunize their staff, we jumped at the chance.
“We have been advocating for priority access to the vaccines for front-line, essential workers since the vaccines first arrived in British Columbia,” said Lisa McGuire, CEO and President of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance. “We know there are ongoing challenges to manage COVID-19 outbreaks in food processing and other manufacturing settings. Immunization offers the best protection for workers, businesses, and their families from COVID-19, and seeing this opportunity become available for food processing workers has been really rewarding.”
“I wanted to thank you for the support of VCH in vaccinating my team today at the Triumph location. We are very grateful for all your front-line nurses and staff who were courteous, knowledgeable and very upbeat today. We look forward to completing the second vaccine as soon as the schedules permit!”
With additional vaccines approved for use in Canada, BC adjusted its Immunization Plan to allocate COVISHIELD/SSI vaccine to protect workers in industries facing obstacles managing COVID-19 risks. In some workplaces, the full use of barriers or personal protective equipment is complex. In many food processing facilities, workers’ proximity makes them more at risk for transmission and COVID-19 outbreaks and clusters.
“Excellent news, thank you so much! We will absolutely encourage all staff to take advantage of this opportunity.”
COVISHIELD/SII is a viral vector-based vaccine that uses a harmless virus as a delivery system. Two doses of the vaccine allow a person to build a robust immune response without exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Canada has a comprehensive approval process for new vaccines and closely monitors all vaccines for safety, efficacy, and side-effects.
COVID-19 immunization provides the best hope for an end to this global pandemic and a return to everyday life. And, while we continue to rely on managing the risk of transmission through tools like barriers, physical distancing, personal protective equipment, and other controls, we are looking forward to a time when we can resume “business as usual.”
“The information from the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC and Vancouver Coastal Health has been very clear. The clinic staff were very kind and courteous – all of our staff felt well taken care of, and Vancouver Coastal has been very responsive to my questions. Overall, we at WCRL feel privileged to be permitted to participate in the clinic and we appreciate all of your hard work in getting this initiative up and off the ground!”
“We are encouraging everyone eligible to get the vaccine as soon as it is available to them,” said Dr. Michael Schwandt, Medical Health Officer with Vancouver Coastal Health. “Immunity through vaccination helps you fight the virus if you’re exposed and can help protect the people around you.”
We are continuing to work with Vancouver Coastal Health to support the ongoing vaccination clinics and have offered our support to the other BC Health Authorities.
“Thanks for leading this for manufacturing. We have a lot of happy people in our building here today.”
“Ensuring the safety of our critical food-processing workers—and by extension, their families and neighbours—is something we will continue to advocate and work to protect,” promises Lisa McGuire. “Getting the vaccine to as many front-line workers as possible will help control the potential for outbreaks in these critical businesses and surrounding communities.”