Vaccine cards in B.C.: Researcher says mandate could lead to social, financial implications for some

In a couple weeks, the lives of B.C. residents who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 could change drastically, with proof of shots required to enter many non-essential businesses.

One B.C. researcher told CTV Morning Live Friday the impacts could be social and financial for some people.

"It'll be a definite shock, perhaps, to a number of people who are unvaccinated who are used to going out, whether meeting friends or being with family to restaurants, fitness centres and other community events that, all of a sudden, will no longer be accessible," said Scott Lear, professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University.

Officials announced last week that, beginning on Sept. 13, B.C. residents will be required to show proof that they have received at least a first dose of vaccine to dine at restaurants, attend ticketed sporting events, go to the movies or do a variety of other discretionary activities.

By Oct. 24, residents will be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated before entering such venues and events.

Lear said during lockdowns earlier in the pandemic, people living alone or in shared housing with roommates depended on going out to meet friends and family, often in restaurants.

"That will have some social implications for those individuals," Lear said. "There are obviously other opportunities that they can connect with people, but if you're used to going to the gym, being social there, or at a restaurant, that's definitely not going to be available."

Lear said there could also be a strain on relationships as a result.

"We've already heard about tension in families and among friends who are and aren't vaccinated … so this might actually create a bigger wedge in those tensions and harm relationships," he said.

"That would be the definite big downside for people who are unvaccinated if it creates social isolation."

The implications for those who are unvaccinated could reach beyond relationships, Lear said, especially if getting two shots is a requirement to work.

"If it comes to the point where an individual has to be present at a workplace and there's a vaccine requirement, that could have some implications for that individual financially," Lear said.

"Of course if an unvaccinated person, or anybody, gets COVID, depending on their job and their medical benefits, they would have to be at home and not be able to work. We know people who are unvaccinated are more likely to get infected and have more severe symptoms."

Lear recommended anyone who is hesitant to get the vaccine speak to a trusted health-care professional to discuss their concerns and answer their questions.

"Having that discussion can help to bring that information forward and address concerns," he said.

"Of the people who are unvaccinated, not all of them are really vaccine-resistant, they just might have questions that need to be answered."