New B.C. Vaccine Card AnnouncedJennifer Wiebe
Due to the rise in COVID-19 infections, British Columbia is unlikely to move to Step 4 of the provincial Reopening Pan on September 7. Recognizing that vaccination is the way forward, the province is introducing a new Public Health Order requiring proof of vaccination to attend discretionary events, to ensure that people can attend with confidence other attendees have also been vaccinated.
New B.C. Vaccine Card
The province has a new B.C. Vaccine Card—a temporary measure intended to keep people safe and businesses open.
The B.C. Vaccine Card will be available by confidential download to a mobile phone, and in another format still to be announced for those who do not have a mobile phone.
People will need to show proof of vaccination and identify to attend discretionary indoor gatherings:
- As of September 13 – proof of at least 1 dose of the vaccine + 7 days; and
- As of October 24 – proof of full vaccination + 7 days
The B.C. Vaccine Card will be required for:
- Indoor ticketed sporting and arts events and concerts
- Indoor and patio dining
- Nightclubs and casinos
- Theatres, dance, symphony, and cultural events
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Weddings, large parties
- Conferences and workshops
- Indoor recreational activities and classes (such as choirs, seniors group activities)
The new Order does not apply to employees of these businesses, or to workplaces in general. It also does not apply to faith-based services, essential health services, retail, or grocery.
In the province this week, 776K eligible British Columbians are not yet vaccinated.
If you have staff who still need access to the vaccine, additional drop-in and pop-up clinics are being provided across the province for free vaccination. Register here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/vaxforbc
Children under 12 will be exempt from this requirement, provided their parents accompanying them are fully vaccinated.
Otherwise, no one will be exempt. The province describes this initiative as a temporary measure to get us through a risky period. Those rare individuals who cannot get vaccinated will not be able to attend these discretionary events during this critical timeframe.
Travelers from out of province (or internationally) will be allowed to attend these discretionary events with equivalent proof of vaccination.
COVID-19 testing will not be accepted as an alternative to a B.C. Vaccine Card.
Technology and Privacy
The province is working with Privacy Commissioner and Ministry of Health to restrict the B.C. Vaccine Card to ONLY vaccine status information—and to ensure the strictest security protocols to protect personal data and prevent forgery.
Dr. Henry: “The science is clear.” Vaccines have changed how we deal with the pandemic and have made it possible to remove restrictions. In B.C., we continue to see waves of cases, particularly in people who are not yet vaccinated:
- Almost 90% of all cases, and over 93% of hospitalizations in this past month have been unvaccinated people
- The current rate of infection is 28/100K cases in people who are unvaccinated, compared to 2/100K in people who are fully vaccinated
- That leads to transmission in clusters as groups gather, particularly with the highly transmissible Delta variant
- For those who have had COVID-19, particularly mild cases), their immunity is less broad than what the vaccine provides and may not last as long. Vaccination is required for everyone, whether they have had COVID-19 or not.
As we enter the fall season of increased respiratory illness, and prepare to send children back to school, to keep all of our businesses open and ensure we can continue to enjoy social events, the province says, this additional measure is needed.
Particularly in areas of high transmission, the province continues to recommend (or require in certain areas) masks in indoor public areas, physical distancing, and good hand hygiene. The Provincial Health Office is discussing whether the new initiative may allow the province to reduce restrictions in the Interior sooner.