IH CEO says health authority would 'embrace' unvaccinated staff if mandate lifted

IH CEO talks vax mandates

The head of Interior Health says the health authority would welcome back unvaccinated staff if the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers is lifted by the province.

The mayor for the City of Merritt recently called on the provincial government to abolish the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, with the city hospital facing frequent closures due to staffing issues.

Speaking with reporters during a visit to Royal Inland Hospital on Thursday, IH CEO Susan Brown said all health authorities, including Interior Health, lost staff when the public health order came forward.

In early 2022, Interior Health reported 895 employees — about 4 per cent of all IH staff — were fired for not getting the vaccine.

“The only message I could say, if that order changes, we would embrace any staff member to come back,” Brown said.

Brown said the provincial public health office has “tried to follow the science” while determining its response to COVID-19, including the vaccine mandates.

“They've looked at countries that are maybe ahead of us in different ways, so I know Dr. Bonnie Henry has brought that science to the thinking in B.C.,” Brown said.

“I would say there are so many researchers and scientists working on this. It would be hard to believe the science was that inaccurate.”

Brown said she believes that same process will be followed when it comes to evaluating vaccine mandates for healthcare workers.

“I would say that if evidence and science shows that over time, that that's a safe thing to do. I would assume that we’d go there,” Brown said, referring to lifting the mandates.

“If it's not safe, then I'm assuming as a province, we won’t go there.”

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix told the Vancouver Sun this week the province won’t consider lifting the vaccine mandate.

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