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

Jennifer Rice MLA for the North Coast said on International Women’s Day March 8, that thousands of frontline superheroes in health, education, childcare, food, and community services who help us daily through the pandemic should be celebrated. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
British Columbia North Coast MLA, Jennifer Rice spoke with The Northern View on Jan. 7, 2021, at a proper social distancing length to explain the goals and focuses in the riding and for the provincial government for the upcoming year. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
International Women’s Day celebrates leadership in 2021

Celebrate the thousands of frontline superheroes … who help daily - North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice

Haida Gwaii man, Keifer Collinson is shown in his audition video for T.V. reality show Big Brother where he promoted the Haida language in the March 3 episode. (Photo: supplied)
Haida man promotes First Nations language on national T.V. show

Haida Gwaii born Keifer Collinson promotes the importance of language preservation on Big Brother

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, prepares a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Almost two in three Canadians surveyed recently said they trust COVID-19 vaccines to be both safe and effective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Northern Health to open 30 COVID vaccine clinics for oldest residents, Indigenous seniors

Health authority says it plans to vaccinate nearly 15,000 people in Phase Two

Prince Rupert’s Bobby Brown celebrated his 95th birthday milestone on March 5 with family across the country in an online celebration. (Photo: supplied by Jodi Brown)
Prince Rupert man celebrates 95th birthday milestone online

Five generations come together COVID-19 style in Prince Rupert to say “Happy Birthday”

Main door at Cranes Crossing, Prince Rupert’s homeless shelter, on March 5. Northern Health issued a public notice of potential exposure occurring at the shelter between Feb. 22 and 24. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
COVID-19 Public Exposure Notice issued for Prince Rupert’s homeless shelter

Northern Health said possible exposure between Feb. 22 and 24

(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

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complaints about that condo

Most Read