No vaccine mandate for now for B.C. dentists, chiropractors in new order

Unvaccinated health care professionals have until the end of the month to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, under new provincial health orders issued late Monday.

The order requires the Colleges collect the vaccination status information for health care professional such as dentists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, midwives, and massage therapists by March 31.

However, the order does not outline what will be the result if a member of any of the colleges is unvaccinated.

It also does not mention the earlier deadline which the province had given for those receiving their first dose – March 24. 

In February, B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had said that day would be the deadline for all provincially regulated healthcare workers to be vaccinated and would be issuing a public health order. She called this requirement one of the “most important measures” that will allow the province to make it through the Omicron wave which has caused high hospitalization rates, “and will help protect us from the unknowns that are certain to happen in the coming year.”

Both the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the College of Chiropractors have pointed out the order is not a vaccine mandate.

“The CCBC is currently assessing the specific actions required under the Order. We will provide further information in the next few days. Until that time, we respectfully ask that you DO NOT send us any inquiries or documentation related to the Order or your vaccination status.” a statement from the College of Chiropractors said Tuesday morning.

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The order was expected to bring all health care workers under the same requirements. Currently, nurses, long-term care workers, and hospital staff are required to be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. However, doctors working in private practice, dental surgeons, psychologists, and other professionals were not under the same orders unless they worked in high-risk settings like a hospital or a nursing home.

“Health professionals pose a risk of transmission of virus to the public as they provide services to populations of the public who, due to age or underlying health status and despite vaccination status of the patient, are likely to be vulnerable to infection with COVID-19,” the recent order reads. 

The province says the overseeing bodies will be required to disclose vaccine status information of their registrants upon request of medical health officers.

“While it is in force, a provision in an order made by a medical health officer subsequent to this Order, which imposes more restrictive limitations or requirements than this Order with respect to a registrant or health care setting or class of registrant or health care setting applies in the whole or part of the geographic area of the Province for which the medical health officer is designated, according to the terms of the order, despite the provisions of this Order,” the PHO reads.

With files from Nikitha Martins

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