By Laura Keil

The Province’s Oct. 26th deadline for health care staff to get vaccinated came and went last week and a local source says at least five health care personnel in the Robson Valley have been put on unpaid leave.

A source familiar with healthcare staffing in the valley said, to their knowledge, two care aides, one nurse, one doctor and one ambulance driver have been put on unpaid leave due to refusing to get vaccinated.

“They have a choice, but they don’t feel they do,” the source said of those who were put on leave. The source, who is not a physician but spoke on condition of anonymity due to their line of work, said while they believe it’s important for health care staff to have the vaccine, they empathize with those who don’t want it. “They’re really nice people, but they feel fine and they just don’t want to risk it.”

The source said casual and itinerant staff can fill in for some of the positions, but that won’t leave many options for back-up staff.

When asked how many Robson Valley staff were facing unpaid leaves due to the vaccine requirements, Northern Health would not comment, and referred us to the Ministry of Health for overall numbers in the province.

Oct 26th also marked the day visitors to the long-term care ward in McBride must now be vaccinated in order to visit.

Health Minister Adrian Dix reported earlier this week that 3,000 unvaccinated health care workers are on unpaid leave. The Province says workers who get their first shot before Nov. 15th can resume working seven days afterward, but they must wear personal protective equipment and take other precautions until they get their second dose a maximum 35 days later.