Retired nurses ask why they’re not working in B.C.’s vaccine clinics

VANCOUVER — Annemarie Plumridge has been retired from nursing since 2014. But she’s eager to return to work, to help with B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization program. 

“I wanted to help with the vaccine effort, because it’s in our calling as nurses to help during these times. I think its in our DNA,” she said from her home in Langley.

Plumridge was told she didn’t need a licence, and only had to complete several online learning modules to get certified to give COVID-19 vaccines. But after successfully completing all the training, she hasn’t been booked to work at clinics.

“I feel very disrespected. I was an employee of my health authority for over 40 years, and I can’t understand why we can’t be considered,” said Plumridge.

Active physicians who are working in vaccination clinics are being paid $145.65 an hour, which is three to four times as much as a retired nurse would make.

Fellow retired nurse Celeste Boisoneau also completed the training modules, and hasn’t received any clinic shifts either.

“I have gone as far as I can in the application process, and now I’m just frustrated because it seems to be going nowhere,” Boisoneau said. “We are all sitting with time on our hands, and feel we should have been hired before all the ones who are already working in the health field.”

“It isn’t about the money, it about the value the provincial government is placing on nurses and the work that they do,” said BC Nurses’ Union president Christine Sorensen. “It is inherently nursing work, it is something nurses have always done, public health nurses. And they’re simply asking to be allowed to do it when they’re available to do it.”

Both Plumridge and Boisoneau applied to work in clinics in Fraser Health, where they spent their nursing careers.

In a statement, the health authority said: “To date, we have hired 61 retired health professionals into roles across the region. Fraser Health continues to actively hire and utilize nurses to provide COVID-19 immunizations. It is important that we have the right individuals in place to support these roles.”

While she is now fully certified to administer COVID vaccines, Boisoneau is quickly losing hope her skills and those of fellow retired nurses will be utilized, predicting that “clinics are going to be finished by the time they get around the considering us, if they ever do.”


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