B.C. health authority apologizes after yellow star handed out at COVID-19 vaccine clinic

A British Columbia health authority is apologizing after being made aware that a clinic had handed out yellow stars for those getting their second COVID-19 vaccines.

Vancouver Coastal Health became aware of the issue when a vaccine recipient posted a photo on social media.

"A yellow star for double vaccination? Really…?" Andrea Coutu wrote on Twitter Thursday, tagging VCH, the provincial health minister and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. 

Her photo showed her immunization record card and a yellow star that appeared to be similar, if not the same, as the sticky note in that shape made by Post-It.

Many clinics in B.C. have been using coloured, square sticky notes to designate which vaccine a person in line is getting, though it was not immediately clear if this was why Coutu was handed the star.

In response, Vancouver Coastal Health posted an apology about the incident, noting the connotation of the yellow star, a symbol Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe were once forced to wear as a means of identification.

The six-pointed star, as described by the Montreal Holocaust Museum, "facilitated the persecution of Jews by identifying them during mass arrests and later deportations."

"We are deeply concerned by reports that a yellow star was provided at a VCH clinic to an individual who received a vaccination. We take these reports seriously," the health authority wrote.

VCH said it had looked into every clinic in the authority and had "no knowledge" of the stars being handed out anywhere. It said the star has not been approved for distribution anywhere.

"We apologize profusely for any inadvertent distribution of this sticker. The use of yellow stars carries a heavy and tragic history, especially for the Jewish community, and does not reflect our organization's values or our commitment to provide culturally safe care across our health authority," VCH wrote.

"We understand that this gesture is considered hurtful."

In a brief message posted on Twitter, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver thanked VCH for its "responsiveness and strong statement," as well as "all you do to keep us healthy."

Nico Slobinsky, senior director at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs also commented on the apology.

"Thank you (VCH) for this statement and for acknowledging the hurt and trauma that seeing a yellow star used in a medical setting has for the Jewish community," he wrote.

Hi there – thanks for letting us know. We’d like to look into this more. Can you please follow and DM us more specific details. Thanks.

— Vancouver Coastal Health (@VCHhealthcare) July 29, 2021

 

Statement from Vancouver Coastal Health: pic.twitter.com/u7A2lTeJvh

— Vancouver Coastal Health (@VCHhealthcare) July 30, 2021