British Columbia’s Health Minister admonished on Thursday those who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and have staged protests against the province’s vaccine passport outside hospitals.
Adrian Dix also said the province is reviewing “all options” when it comes to limiting protests outside health facilities.
“Demonstrating in these circumstances and interfering with our hospitals and yelling at our health care workers serves no purpose at all,” he told a news conference.
Mr. Dix said ignoring scientific facts and refusing the vaccine hurts the wider population.
“Going up against this virus by going on with our daily lives unvaccinated when we’re eligible to be vaccinated helps only the virus,” he said. “Going up against the virus by rejecting the facts, the data, the evidence and science and its instructive purpose only hurts us all.”
He said residents should get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Mr. Dix said the government will ensure health care workers are kept safe.
Demonstrators gathered outside Vancouver’s city hall on Wednesday to protest the vaccine passport system. A nearby intersection was blocked for about an hour before the group marched downtown across the Cambie Street bridge, flanked by police.
Roughly 5,000 people gathered a week earlier outside Vancouver General Hospital, coinciding with other protests at health care facilities elsewhere in the province, prompting Premier John Horgan to say the targeting and harassment of health care workers was “completely unacceptable.”
Mr. Dix echoed the sentiment Thursday, adding that interfering with patient care was inexcusable.
“To interfere with cancer patients, and heart patients and grieving families, and people who need to use the emergency room is not on. There are places to demonstrate that are not our public hospitals,” he said.
He said more than 85 per cent of eligible residents have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, but wants to see that number rise.
“This is a vicious virus and we don’t want people to get sick,” he said.
Mr. Dix said the majority of those hospitalized due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated, and the virus can affect people from all age ranges.
B.C. reported 774 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and five additional deaths, bringing the death toll from the virus to 1,847. The government said among the 5,594 active cases in the province, 262 patients were in hospital and 130 of them were in intensive care.
Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.