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Editorial: Nudge from nanny state needed in vaccine fight

Individual choices in parts of B.C. impact everyone
Vaccine mandates, like the one now in place for long-term care workers, are needed to help bring pandemic under control. file photo

This week, COVID vaccines became mandatory for all staff working in long-term care and assisted living facilities.  

Soon that will be followed by similar requirements for visitors and for hospital staff.

It’s a welcome move, and long overdue. (It’s also hard to understand why anyone working with such a vulnerable population wouldn’t choose to be vaccinated.)

As the report from the B.C. seniors advocate showed, almost all deadly cases of COVID in long-term care homes were unwittingly introduced by staff. Even now, the Delta variant continues to cause care home outbreaks. Deaths among the fully vaccinated are almost exclusively among this population.

Fortunately, vaccination rates among care home staff are high across the province, at about 96 per cent.

Some areas of the province, however, are more equal than others when it comes to vaccination. Rates among staff in the North are almost 10 per cent below those in Vancouver Coastal Health.

Not coincidentally, the North is also the area where COVID infections are spreading rapidly among the unvaccinated. Seriously ill patients are now being airlifted to ICUs in southern hospitals.

In a similar vein, it makes no sense for the province to kick decisions on mandatory school staff vaccinations to local school boards, where boards in some pockets of the province are likely to face heavy pressures from anti-vaxxers. As much as possible, vaccine mandates should be broad, and provincewide.

As the continued airlifting of hospital patients shows, decisions in one part of B.C. do impact people in another.

If increasing mandates of the nanny state are needed to get our pandemic under control sooner than later, so be it.