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

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

BC Wildfire Service crew member Josh Hutchinson participated in a controlled burn above the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds on Tuesday, April 20 that was conducted in concert with the Williams Lake Fire Department. It was a good weather day for the burn, as on Wednesday, April 21, the BCWS is urging caution, with strong winds in the forecast Wednesday and Thursday for the region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Cariboo Fire Centre urges caution against outdoor burning due to strong winds forecast

Public, industry asked to consider postponing burning until calmer weather

Cathy McLeod (File Photo)
McLeod disappointed with first federal budget in two years

The 2021 Federal Budget released Monday, April 19 is “disappointing and politically opportunistic,”

A two-hectare fire is burning between Canim Lake and Hawkins Lake. (Photo submitted).
Homeowners urged to be cautious with outdoor burning

Multiple fires, tinder-dry conditions good reminders to be vigilant.

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Police road checks are coming for people travelling between regions while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone

Vehicle checks on highways, at ferry terminals to start Friday

Most Read