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B.C. teachers union ‘not opposed’ to mandatory vaccines, on certain conditions

While some other essential workers in B.C. will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, such is not the case for teachers.

In a recent tweet, the BC Teachers Federation said it would not oppose mandatory vaccines.

However, BCTF president Teri Mooring said the union has some imperatives: “One is, that we need to protect our members’ privacy; another is, we need to ensure that those teachers that would qualify for exemption would be properly accommodated.”

Mooring added that while vaccination is a part of the answer, it’s not the complete answer, especially in schools where the majority of students aren’t eligible for a vaccine.

“Vaccinations in conjunction with, K to 12 masking, ventilation system upgrades, a comprehensive testing strategy, a strategy to ensure that the 12 to 17 year olds are vaccinated… all those strategies kind of work together in our view.”

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The province is making it mandatory for all health-care workers in care homes to be fully vaccinated from COVID-19 by Oct. 12th.

We reached out to the Ministry of Health, asking if B.C. teachers will have to follow suit. 

In a statement, the Ministry said that “we understand that parents and school staff want clear, accurate and up-to-date information going into the upcoming school year so they can feel safe. That’s why we worked hard to provide British Columbians with initial health and safety guidance for schools in June, as well as a recovery plan for school boards and independent schools.”

The ministry added that early in the pandemic, public health officials identified people living in long-term care and seniors’ assisted living as particularly vulnerable to severe outcomes from COVID-19.  

“To protect the province’s most vulnerable people and reduce transmission rates, public health is making it mandatory for all healthcare workers in licensed long-term care and seniors assisted living facilities to be fully vaccinated from COVID-19 by October 12th,” the Ministry said.

“While vaccination is not currently mandatory in B.C., public health urges everyone eligible to receive both doses of the vaccine to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community from COVID-19.”

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