COVID-19: B.C. launches and provides further details about B.C. Vaccine Card program

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      B.C. is launching its proof of vaccination program and provided more specific information about it.

      B.C. had announced on August 23 that it would be implementing a proof of vaccine program called the B.C. Vaccine Card for entry to a number of non-essential social and recreational settings.

      Today (September 7), B.C. Premier John Horgan, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, and Health Minister Adrian Dix held a news conference to provide further information about the B.C. Vaccine Card program.

      The card, which provides proof of vaccination, will be required at any social or recreational events and businesses that are considered “higher risk”.

      British Columbians can obtain their card online (by entering personal health number, date of birth, and date of vaccine dose), and can save a digital version on their mobile device or print a hard copy to present along with government-issued photo ID for entrance to events and businesses. The card includes an individualized QR code and image that will indicate if a person is partially or fully vaccinated.

      Those who don’t have access to a computer or a printer have a few options:

      • they can ask a trusted friend, family member or support person print their card for them;
      • they can call the Get Vaccinated call centre at 1-833-838-2323 to have their printed copy mailed to them;
      • they can visit a Service B.C. Centre to get one.

      Businesses can either scan the QR code using a QR reader, such as a smartphone or tablet (a QR code reader app will be available at the Google and Apple app stores shortly before September 13 for businesses) or visually verify the card. Information for businesses is available online.

      Province of British Columbia

      The vaccination requirement rules become effective on September 13 when one vaccine dose will be required for entry. As of October 24, two doses will be required.

      During a transition period from September 13 to 26, people can use the vaccination records they received at B.C. vaccine clinics or pharmacies as proof of vaccination. As of September 27, only the B.C. Vaccine Card will be accepted.

      The list of businesses and event that will require the B.C. Vaccine Card includes:

      • indoor ticketed sporting events;
      • indoor concerts, theatre, dance, and symphony events;
      • licensed restaurants, and those offering table service (indoor and outdoor dining);
      • pubs, bars, and lounges (indoor and outdoor dining);
      • nightclubs, casinos, and movie theatres;
      • fitness centres, gyms, and adult sports (indoor);
      • indoor group exercise activities;
      • organized indoor events with 50 or more people (such as wedding receptions, organized parties, conferences, or workshops);
      • discretionary organized indoor group recreational classes and activities.

      For eateries, the card is only required for dine-in service, not take-out, and fast-food outlets and cafeterias are exempt.

      Individuals who are 19 years and above will also need to show government-issued ID while those aged 12 to 18 years old won’t need to.

      Visitors from outside of Canada will need to show the vaccination record they used to enter Canada, along with their passport.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Premier John Horgan
      Province of British Columbia

      While the program is being implemented, Henry said that protective measures, including mandatory mask wearing indoors and current maximum capacity limits, will remain in place for now due to current transmission levels. But she also explained that they hope to eventually be able to remove capacity limits once risk is reduced when only immunized individuals are in these settings.

      She explained that this card program is being implemented so that more restrictive measures don’t have to be implemented or events and setting don’t have to be temporarily shut down, as has been done in the past during the pandemic.

      Fines can be issued to individuals, owners, and organizers of events from enforcement officers, including police, liquor and cannabis inspectors, gambling investigators, and conservation officers. Fines for individuals are $230 or $575 (depending on the violation) and $2,300 for event organizers, owners or operators.

      Henry explained that this vaccine card program does not apply to workers as that remains within the employer and employee relationship, and the vaccine card is for those attending or participating in events and services.

      The B.C. Vaccine Card will be required until January 31, 2022, which is subject to potential extension.

      Henry said that for privacy and security reasons, the global SMART Health Card, which utilize QR codes, is being used, and that the B.C. Vaccine Card is not connected to any other health records.

      She pointed out that modelling from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control in August shows that unvaccinated people are at 12 times greater risk of infection, 34 times greater risk of hospitalization, and eight times greater risk of death.

      “It’s abundantly clear that the COVID fourth wave is confined largely to those who have not been vaccinated,” Horgan said, citing information from public health and experts from across Canada. “Our first order of business is to keep people safe, to keep them well, in the midst a global pandemic.”

      Dix said that as of today, over 7,545,000 vaccine doses have been administered and 85.1 percent of British Columbians have received their first dose while 77.6 percent have received their second dose.

      More information about the B.C. Vaccine Card is available online

      For today's B.C. COVID-19 update, see this article.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.