Registrants are encouraged to read the Ministry of Health’s update on the Viral Respiratory Illness (VRI) Season. The news release includes information about vaccines and medical masking.
Key highlights include the following:
- Medical mask wearing will be required by all health care workers, volunteers, contractors and visitors in patient care areas starting October 3, 2023.
- Masks are required in health care facilities managed by health authorities and long-term care sites.
- At this time, the mask mandate does not apply to private clinic settings.
COTBC understands that private health care clinics, such as those commonly used by occupational therapists, are not included in this directive and are not required by the province to adopt medical masking procedures at this time.
Despite this, we encourage registrants to consider the risks to their own client populations, staff and themselves, and to review current information from the Centre for Disease Control to determine the most appropriate measures for infection prevention and control in their practices.
Registrants are reminded to review the Practice Standard for Infection Prevention and Control to support their decision making.
The Minister of Health and the Provincial Health Officer can issue directives and orders to address public safety concerns at any time, including but not limited to a directive in the future to include mandatory medical masking in private practice environments. The College will provide registrants with information as it is confirmed and urges registrants to consult government sources for more details.
If you have any questions regarding this public health directive, contact us at email@example.com.
Please note that a previous Order of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) “to prevent or reduce the risk of the transmission of infection with SARS-CoV-2 by health professionals” has been terminated effective July 14, 2023, as outlined in a July 14 Notice of the Provincial Health Officer.
In accordance with the termination of this order, health profession regulatory colleges are no longer required to record the vaccination status of registrants after July 14, 2023.
This repeal does not affect the requirements of health care employers and post-secondary institutions to collect the vaccination status information of their employees and students.
Separate public health orders remain in place requiring COVID-19 vaccination for health professionals working in residential care and acute care and community care settings.
BC Provincial Health Officer (PHO) Dr. Bonnie Henry announced yesterday (February 9, 2022) that she will issue a public health order next week requiring full COVID-19 vaccination for all regulated health professionals, including occupational therapists.
The new order will broaden a previous PHO order originally dated October 14, 2021, which mandated COVID-19 vaccination for health care workers working in acute, long-term, and community care health settings. The order can be found on the COVID page.
Dr. Henry indicated that the new order requires all regulated health professionals to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine by March 24, 2022. A second dose is required 28-35 days thereafter.
The College has not yet been provided with the proposed order and does not have specific information about what role is to be played by the College and other health regulatory colleges. After the order is released, the College will review it, consult with the Ministry of Health and other BC health regulators, and provide registrants with additional information.
Under the Public Health Act, the Provincial Health Officer has the authority to issue public health orders, including vaccination mandates, to protect the public.