COVID-19: Unexpected vax prescription frustrates some youth sports programs, but most take it in stride

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Lack of notice and consultation on mask mandate surprises some sports leaders

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Some youth sports leaders are frustrated by the province’s lack of communication on new vaccination requirements for the supervision or training of youth sports teams.

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Part of a provincial health ordinance issued this week included a requirement that adults who “lead, supervise or assist” a program for children or youth must be fully immunized against COVID-19. The rule applies to all youth programs, whether they take place indoors or outdoors.

“We are disheartened by the lack of consultation and the lack of a timeline to comply,” said Jeff Clarke, a Vancouver Whitecap alumnus and technical director and soccer operations director for Surrey United.

“We’re all for safety and compliance,” said Clark, “but something like this affects kids and volunteers, and as a nonprofit we’re not equipped to turn around as quickly as we can. ‘a company.”

“The sudden and rapid implementation of this measure seems out of step with our outdoor transmission data and the phased approach used with other industries,” Vancouver Athletic Football Club President Daren Sherbot wrote in a comment. communicated.

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Meanwhile, the province said on Friday that 584 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths were reported on Thursday. In addition, the provincial health official has indefinitely extended the order for masks for indoor public spaces which was due to expire on Sunday.

There are about 2,800 children and more than 660 volunteers involved with the Vancouver Football Club, Sherbot said, and no cases of COVID-19 transmission have been reported at the club, either this season or the last.

In an email sent Oct. 28, Sherbot asked all “coaches, managers and team officials” at the club to submit vaccination confirmation by the next day so they can continue in their current capacity.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the order reflects the need to require vaccination in such settings, which are less structured than workplaces. He said he believed it was absolutely the right decision under the circumstances.

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Dix said he expects everyone to follow the latest instructions from provincial health worker Dr Bonnie Henry on supervising youth sports. “It’s not about applying or punishing anyone. This is to ensure the safety of the activity, ”he said.

“It’s less risky and it makes me a little more comfortable,” said Dale Rahim, youth soccer coach with the BC Coastal Soccer League, of the new rules.

The reduction in school sports has led to hundreds more children joining football leagues, which makes it more important to know that coaches are vaccinated “because that means you have a lot more children.” did he declare.

“This is where they come for something like athletics because they can’t get it in school,” Rahim said.

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For Holman Wang, who coaches youth in soccer and hockey, the requirement to be fully immunized was not an issue.

“I have already uploaded my vaccination card to ePact to meet the Vancouver Minor Hockey Association proof requirement,” he wrote in an email. “I think the requirement is reasonable.”

Cam Hope, CEO of BC Hockey, acknowledged that some people were “a little caught off guard” by the new order, but said it would “have little or no effect” on hockey in the province.

Being indoors, many arenas across the province already had a similar rule in place, he said, adding that when Hockey Canada strongly recommended vaccination for everyone who qualifies, “people took that out. heart “.

“Compared to all the stuff we dealt with last year,” Hope said, “this won’t be the one to keep the kids off the ice.”

With a file from Steve Ewen and The Canadian Press.

[email protected]

@njgriffiths

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