About 20% of West Coast residents have secured their B.C. vaccine cards ahead of new restrictions going into effect next week, part of a bid to clamp down on the spread of COVID-19.
Health Minister Adrian Dix confirmed on Thursday that about 1.1 million vaccine cards have been distributed since they were made available two days earlier.
Vaccination certificates, which roll out September 13, will be needed if British Columbians wish to visit what the government describes as discretionary events and locations. This includes pubs, concerts, ticketed sports games, banquet halls and more.
“There’s a lot of discussion with a B.C. vaccine card that we’re not allowing people who are unvaccinated to participate in certain social activities that are optional,” said Dix, adding unvaccinated British Columbians will still receive medical care even if they are infected.
“The B.C. vaccine card will allow people to do things that they would not otherwise be able to do if they weren’t vaccinated.”
Dix also emphasized repeatedly that 111 of the 130 British Columbians currently hospitalized and in critical care are not vaccinated. To date, 77.8% of eligible residents over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
West Coast residents can apply for the B.C. vaccine card by visiting http://gov.bc.ca/vaccinecard and entering their personal health number, date of birth and date of either their first or second COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Users can then save a screen grab of a QR code onto their smartphone to facilitate verification by businesses. Alternatively, users can print off a paper copy of the QR code.
If an individual does not have access to the internet, they can call 1-833-838-2323 to get a paper copy mailed to them.
Businesses will need to scan the vaccine card’s QR code using the yet-to-be-released BC Vaccine Card Verifier app before allowing patrons inside. Otherwise, workers can also look at the card and verify the user’s name and vaccination details along with government photo ID.
The app will only confirm a user’s vaccination status: fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated or no records found. No additional health info will be contained in the app or stored in the worker’s mobile device.
The government is urging businesses not to call police as the first resort in the event patrons choose not to show proof of vaccination.
Instead, the province is hoping individuals will be dissuaded by a fine of up to $575, which could be issued by cannabis inspectors, health inspectors, community safety units, gaming investigators and bylaw officers.
Some businesses across the province have already publicly stated they will not enforce the cards. The province, meanwhile, has said those businesses will face fines for violating public health orders.
“If people are making a disturbance, there is provisions for this to be enforced. If businesses are flaunting the rules and putting people at risk, then there’s implications for that as well,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.
Here’s how the new initiative will work when it rolls out September 13:
Businesses/events that will require proof of vaccination
· Restaurants (indoor/outdoor dining), pubs
· Organized indoor events such as weddings, business conferences
· Concerts, clubs, cinemas, casinos
· Fitness centres, adult sports, indoor group exercise activities
· Indoor ticketed sporting events like the BC Lions, Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Canucks
How to apply
· Visit http://gov.bc.ca/vaccinecard
· Entering personal health number, date of birth and date of either the user’s first or second COVID-19 vaccine dose
· Save digital version to mobile device or print off paper copy from website
· If one does not have computer or internet access, call 1-833-838-2323 to get a paper copy mailed
What businesses need to know
· Verify users’ vaccination status by downloading BC Card Vaccine Verifier (not yet available) and scanning QR code featured on users’ digital cards or paper copies
· Verify vaccination status visually by looking at the card and checking the user’s name and vaccination details
· Confirm that the user’s government-issued photo ID matches the name of B.C. vaccine card