Rose Sawka, 91, waves to her son through the window of a care home in Prince Rupert in October. Residents of the care home received their first vaccine dose Jan. 20. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Rose Sawka, 91, waves to her son through the window of a care home in Prince Rupert in October. Residents of the care home received their first vaccine dose Jan. 20. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)

B.C. care home visitor access to expand by March, Dix says

Staff, residents, essential visitors top priorities for vaccine

Most of B.C.’s long-term care home staff and residents have received their first vaccination for COVID-19, with essential visitors and assisted living facilities also included in the first phase of B.C.’s vaccine program.

Vaccine protection is expected to allow visitor restrictions to be eased by March, Health Minister Adrian Dix said as the ministry updated its vaccination program to reach the general population by April.

“What you’re going to see in the month of March is changes in both social activity within care homes to allow more activity within the care home on a normal day,” Dix said Jan. 22. “And, in addition to that, changes with respect to visitation, because once people and residents are made safe, the immunization process is going to allow a lot of things to happen, including more visits from family memories and love ones and friends.”

B.C.’s Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie reported in November on close family members being refused access to elderly relatives in care facilities, with restrictions going beyond public health orders that define who is an “essential visitor.” People used to providing meal and grooming support for elderly parents were turned away as care homes struggled to avoid deadly virus outbreaks among frail residents.

RELATED: B.C.’s mass vaccination program to begin in April

RELATED: B.C. seniors suffer from isolation in care homes

The ministry put in place an appeal process after Mackenzie’s report, but Dix said the vaccine rollout is the best way to move forward safely. He noted that there have been 650 deaths of care home residents since the pandemic began, and as many as 20 in assisted living, the majority of all B.C. deaths related to COVID-19.

Most long-term care facilities have received vaccine, and about half of assisted living residents and staff were given first doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as of this week. The first phase of vaccine rollout also includes and estimated 8,000 essential visitors to long-term care and assisted living.

“The concern has been that those rules have not been applied equally and everywhere, but our hope is, and the purpose of doing long-term care first dose and then second dose, with assisted living first dose and then second dose, is to make those places safer,” Dix said.

Also in the first phase of vaccine priority, to be completed by the end of January if enough vaccine is available, are people waiting for a space in long-term care, high-risk hospital, paramedic and public health staff, and people in remote Indigenous reserves.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Once again Fraser East is among the health service delivery areas with the highest rate of COVID-19 transmission in the province. (Datawrapper)
Fraser East sees third highest rate of COVID-19 cases in B.C.

The region is seeing a sustained increase in new COVID-19 cases

Once a star player with the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team, Kayli Sartori is moving into a new role coaching the next generation of Cascades. (UFV photo)
Chilliwack’s Kayli Sartori goes from court to coach with UFV basketball Cascades

Sartori is taking a new path as part of the U-Sports female basketball apprentice coaching program

The Kimber family of Boston Bar lost their home in a fire. Blaine Kimber’s daughter created a fundraiser to help rebuild the home with the goal of $100,000. (Screenshot/GoFundMe)
Fundraiser created for Boston Bar family that lost everything in weekend fire

Witnesses say the Kimber family escaped the fire without injury, but their home is a total loss

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of March 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Surrey RCMP are investigating a “serious” collision near Cloverdale Saturday evening. (Curtis Kreklau photo)
Man dead after single vehicle collision in Surrey; speed possible factor

Police say vehicle collided with telephone pole at approximately 9:30 p.m.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Most Read