Masks mandatory in all health-care settings, pharmacists prepare for fall immunization

Masks mandatory in all health-care settings, pharmacists prepare for fall immunization

Masks are once again required in all health-care settings in British Columbia, as the province prepares to roll out its fall COVID and flu immunization plan.

It comes as an outbreak is declared in one south Vancouver Island hospital unit.

“For the last month or so, we’ve been getting phone calls,” said Chris Stokes, a pharmacist at Cook Street’s Cridge Family Pharmacy.

“We’re just not as busy as the last few years where the phone was ringing every 30 seconds asking about the COVID vaccines, but yeah, still lots of interest in it,” he told CHEK News.

Stokes says cold and flu season has started early this year. He says their pharmacy has been giving 50-60 COVID test boxes daily for the last month.

“The last two or three weeks, nonstop people coming in for COVID tests, coming in for cough and cold products. Yeah. It’s been bad already,” said Stokes.

Next Tuesday, the province will be rolling out this fall’s flu and COVID vaccines together as a one-stop shop for your protection for respiratory virus season.

As critical immunization season approaches, the only potential problem is nearly half of British Columbians are feeling ‘vaccine fatigue,’ according to a new poll.

“We certainly have an awareness that there’s been an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19,” said Adriane Gear, president of BC Nurses Union (BCNU).

“COVID-19 is still very much circulating.”

Then there’s the issue of masks, which are once again mandatory in health-care settings as of Tuesday.

As the change rolls out, BCNU’s president wants to remind everyone that health-care settings serve our population’s most vulnerable people and that masking up in hospitals, long-term care homes, and doctors’ offices will help protect those with weakened immune systems.

“I’m just asking the public. I understand [masks] can be seen as an interference or a nuisance, but please don’t take that out on the staff,” said Gear.

READ ALSO: COVID outbreak declared at Victoria General Hospital, 11 cases confirmed

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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