Kamloops doctors sad to see colleagues leave positions over unvaccinated status | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops doctors sad to see colleagues leave positions over unvaccinated status

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Interior Health has the highest percentage of unvaccinated healthcare workers among health authorities in the province but so far they're not telling anyone how they are dealing with it or what ramifications they foresee.

Seven per cent of healthcare workers in the Interior Health region are not vaccinated and, if they didn’t get the jab by Oct. 26, they were placed on unpaid leave.

Out of 126,343 total healthcare workers in B.C. (not including those in long-term care or assisted living), 4,090 were not vaccinated as of Oct. 26, with 1,369 of those being in Interior Health.

READ MORE: Non-urgent surgery delays in Interior Health due to high COVID numbers, unvaccinated health workers

Requests for more information on what Interior Health is doing with more than 1,300 workers placed on unpaid leave and what positions were most impacted were unanswered by the health authority and redirected to the Ministry of Health.

“We can assure the public that we are working to ensure the safe continuity of services throughout the region,” said the health authority, via email.

Thomas Hunt, public affairs officer with the Ministry of Health, said the ministry “is still reviewing the data and we hope to be able to provide rates by further breakdown in the coming weeks ahead.”

An update on surgery cancellations in Interior Health will be announced Tuesday by the minister of health. Some non-urgent surgeries are being postponed in the Interior Health region to deal with high levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations combined with having the highest rate of unvaccinated workers in B.C.

One doctor in Kamloops said it’s sad to see their colleagues go.

“It is very painful and many of us are grieving the situation. Even if we don’t agree with our colleagues’ decisions we lament losing members of our work family,” said a Kamloops Royal Inland Hospital doctor, who asked not to be identified. “People are pretty angry. Everyone is doing the best they can under the circumstances and trying to shift workload around."

Situations are not always black and white, according to another Kamloops hospital doctor.

“I don't enjoy seeing people hurting. I wouldn't be in this profession if I did. And I don't for one second believe that the decision to leave careers behind didn't come with an immense amount of distress. I don't have to agree with their decision to recognize and empathize with pain,” they said.

READ MORE: One-third of unvaccinated B.C. health workers in Interior Health as deadline arrives

Kelowna General Hospital ER doctor Jeffrey Eppler said he’s not unsympathetic to people who are worried about the long-term effects of the vaccine but doesn’t think it’s a good enough reason not to get it.

“If you’re worried about the long-term of the vaccine, you should be way, way, way more worried about the long-term effects of the virus itself. I believe the experts,” he said. “I still believe the vaccine is the best way to get our society up and running and to protect the public and healthcare workers.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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