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Masks Are Coming Back to BC Health Care Facilities, Updated COVID Vaccines

Victoria – The Province and public-health officials are taking actions to continue protecting people, communities and the health-care system this fall and are encouraging people in B.C. aged six months and older to get their COVID-19 and influenza vaccines.

As respiratory infections are increasing in communities in B.C., the risk also increases in health-care facilities where people may be more at risk of severe infections or complications. To increase protections in health-care facilities in the province, medical mask wearing will be required by all health-care workers, volunteers, contractors and visitors in patient care areas starting Oct. 3, 2023.

Long-term care visitors will be required to wear a medical mask when they are in common areas of the home and when participating in indoor events, gatherings, activities in communal areas of the care home or residence.

Ambassadors will be at facility entrances to support screening for symptoms of respiratory illnesses, hand out medical masks, and ensure people clean their hands before entering.

As well:

Invitation for immunization appointments for everyone else will begin on Oct. 10, 2023, and people will be able to receive influenza and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time, if they wish. Invitations will roll out incrementally throughout the month of October.

Vaccines will be readily available in many participating pharmacies, health-authority clinics, and some primary-care providers’ offices throughout the province. They remain free and are available for everyone six months and older, including enhanced influenza vaccines for seniors.

Health Canada approved the updated Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty Omicron XBB.1.5. COVID-19 vaccines on Sept. 28, 2023, and the COVID-19 Moderna Spikevax vaccine on Sept. 12, 2023, and they will be available in B.C. soon. The new vaccines target the XBB.1.5 subvariant and are approved for use in people six months and older. The updated Novavax vaccine is expected to be approved shortly and will also be available throughout the province.

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