British Columbia’s chief medical officer had some strong words Monday for a couple that travelled from her province to the Yukon in order to jump the vaccine line.
Dr. Bonnie Henry says the vaccine line-hoppers are shameful.
“They should be ashamed of themselves, they put a community at risk for their own benefit and that to me is appalling,” she said.
Media reports have identified former Great Canadian Gaming Corp. president Rodney Baker and his wife Ekaterina Baker as the couple who chartered a private plane to the small community of Beaver Creek, near the Alaska border. Yukon officials said the couple posed as visiting essential workers and received their first COVID-19 vaccine doses at a mobile clinic.
The pair were intercepted at the airport trying to leave the territory, and were each charged with one count of failing to self-isolate for 14 days and one count of failing to act in a manner consistent with their declarations upon arriving in Yukon. They both face fines of $1,000 each plus fees.
The news comes as B.C. and the rest of Canada continue to face delayed vaccine shipments and have postponed some next steps in their vaccination plans.
In B.C., vaccines are currently being administered to long-term care residents and workers as part of phase one. Upcoming phases will include other health-care workers, residents over the age of 80 and the immunocompromised.
“They should be ashamed of themselves, they put a community at risk for their own benefit and that to me is appalling.”
The province plans to roll out an age-based system when vaccinations will be open to the general population, in descending increments of five years.
That means that barring any pre-existing conditions, the 55-year-old Rodney and 32-year-old Ekaterina wouldn’t be scheduled to get their vaccinations in B.C. until at least the summer and fall, respectively.
On Monday, Henry said she was confident most provincial residents are willing to wait their turn for the vaccine.
“I am very saddened and disappointed that people would do that but I’m also heartened to know the vast majority of people in Canada and B.C. do not think that way,” she said.
Henry was less clear on whether the pair, who reside in Vancouver, would be permitted to receive their second dose of the shot in B.C. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a second dose within a maximum around 42 days of the first dose to be fully effective.
“In terms of people who were immunized somewhere else and are in B.C., if they are residents of B.C., then the second dose may be here,” Henry said.
She highlighted that free and accessible vaccinations were important in Canada, and that applies to people moving between provinces.
“The immunization is free for everybody in Canada across the country, so one of our tenants of being in Canada is that we can interchange these,” Henry said.
She said she’s confident people in B.C. will follow provincial guidelines as the vaccine roll-out progresses.
“We know that the approach we have to protect the most vulnerable is one [the majority of B.C. residents] support, and I thank everybody in B.C. for that,” she said.
With files from the Canadian Press.