While four provinces declared this week they would be dropping vaccine mandates and other COVID restrictions in the immediate future, British Columbia announced it was expanding the forced shots to include all health care professionals in private practice.

B.C.’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday that the province would be extending its mandatory vaccination policy to include all regulated health care professionals not yet covered, including chiropractors, dentists, midwives, acupuncturists, practitioners of Chinese medicine and many others.

“The purpose of this provincial health officer order is to protect patients from being infected with (COVID-19) by unvaccinated health professionals, as well as to minimize the number of people being hospitalized or dying because of the virus,” Henry said.

“This is going to be a serious respiratory illness that is with us for (at least) another year,” Henry said. “We’ll know more by this time next year about its patterns, and we’ll know more in the next few weeks about how we’re going to get through that.”

Under the new order, all health care professionals in B.C. would have to show proof of vaccination by March 24 or be deregistered by their licensing body. Henry had originally declared she was working towards expanding the mandate on Oct. 2021.

The move comes after Henry announced that B.C. would be keeping its vaccine passports in place until at least June 30.

The announcement also comes as B.C. government workers put on unpaid leave over vaccine mandates in November face termination on Feb. 24.

With provinces including Alberta, Saskatchewan, PEI and now Manitoba announcing they are dropping COVID mandates, the expansion of B.C.’s forced vaccination policy came as a surprise to some.

Henry has become well-known among Canada’s provincial health officers during the pandemic, but after impressing Canadians early-on with her level-headed perspective on managing COVID-19, she has recently supported health measures out of step with her own data and reassurances.

After declaring during a New Year’s interview that she wanted to get out of the business of public health orders, Henry was also only the second provincial health officer – after Ontario’s Dr. Kieran Moore – to admit that COVID hospitalization numbers don’t tell the whole story when it comes to the pandemic’s burden on hospitals.

Last week, B.C. released data showing that as much as 60% of current “COVID hospitalizations” are incidental – that is, people who came to hospital for other reasons than COVID, and had “no or mild respiratory symptoms or other symptoms.”

Henry also declared Wednesday that a third dose offers about 50-60% protection from infection.

“We’re all tired of this, we want it to end, but wanting it to end and not taking the right measures to get us through this are two different things,” Henry said.

True North reached out to a number of the affected colleges among B.C. Health Regulators for comment.

B.C. Dental Association (BCDA) spokesperson Cary Chan confirmed that they had not yet received the actual health order.

Despite defending the safety of dental offices in November and claiming that “BCDA knows of no transmissions of COVID-19 between dental professionals and patients in B.C. or across Canada,” spokesperson Elizabeth Robbins confirmed to True North on Feb 15. that the BCDA supports mandatory government vaccination of dentists in private practices.

The province announced Thursday that 93.4% (4,040,218) of all eligible adults in B.C. had received their first dose, 90.9% (3,929,828) their second dose and 54.0% (2,335,461) a third dose.