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Patient and family member information about COVID-19

We’re working to ensure that our patients and clients as well as their loved ones have all of the information they need about COVID-19, including what they need to know if they’re participating in treatment in one of our programs.
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Here, you’ll find communications from our vice-president to family members, some general questions about COVID-19, and questions that our clients and patients have had about the COVID-19 vaccine. For the most up to date information about COVID-19, visit the BCCDC website. For details on the provincial vaccination rollout, including sequencing, visit the Government of B.C. website.

Letters from our VP

We’ve sent letters to family members from our vice-president as the pandemic has unfolded.

General COVID-19 information

We are still learning about COVID-19. Some people who have it do not feel sick at all but others can become seriously ill. 

Most people with COVID-19 fully recover without the need for special medical help, but older people or people with health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and lung disease are more likely to become ill. 

We are taking steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to patients, visitors and staff at all our sites.

The most common symptoms include:
  • A high temperature
  • A new cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle aches
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Diarrhea
If you think you may have symptoms, please take the BC Ministry of Health COVID-19 self-assessment tool and follow the instructions based on your symptoms.

To keep patients, families and staff safe, we are currently limiting the number of visitors to two at a time. Across our program sites, virtual visits are available for those who cannot visit in person. Speak to your care team to learn more about connecting virtually with your loved one.

If an in-person visit is allowed by staff, you will be screened for COVID-19. You might be asked questions about recent travel outside of Canada, symptoms of COVID-19 that you may have, or whether you have had contact with a person who has COVID-19 or might have COVID-19. 

You will also be asked to be extra careful during your visit. This may include being asked to meet in a separate room or limiting the number of personal items you bring with you. You will also be asked to wear a medical mask, which we will provide.

We recommend that you connect with your friends, family and loved ones through phones and technology for the moment. Staff will be able to help you with teleconferencing or videoconferencing where possible. ‎


To help limit the number of people in our buildings, we ask that people not send gifts or other items at the moment.‎

You can take these simple, everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer, especially after being in shared spaces and before eating. 
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow, not your hand.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Stay over two metres away from others and do not hug or shake hands. This is known as social distancing and helps prevent germs being passed from person to person.
In addition to limiting visitors, we are taking many steps to keep you or your loved one safe at this time, including:
  • Staff are washing or sanitizing their hands frequently.
  • We’re cleaning shared spaces very often and very carefully.
  • Staff are safely disposing of items like gloves and masks to keep rooms and clothing free from germs.
  • We are limiting the number and size of gatherings and outings. If a group or outing goes ahead, the size will be decreased to ensure there is a space two metres between patients to prevent the spread of germs.
Our outpatient services, including the Regional Forensic Psychiatric Clinics, continue to remain open. Where possible, staff will meet with patients and families by phone or video. If not possible or appropriate, we continue to provide in-person care while following safety protocol.
We are committed to ensuring you or your loved one continue to have access to quality care. If you are concerned about how COVID-19 may impact your/your loved one’s care at BCMHSUS, please contact your Regional Forensic Clinic.
Patient and client questions about the COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 is an infection of the airways and lungs that can be very serious, especially for people who are over 50 or who have other chronic health conditions such as the following:
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Kidney disease
COVID-19 can also be more serious if you smoke or used to smoke.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include a cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, tiredness and the loss of smell or taste. Some people with COVID-19 may have no symptoms or only mild symptoms. Others may need to go to the hospital and may even die.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, talking and singing. It can also be spread by touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.‎

There are two types of COVID-19 vaccines being used in B.C.: mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) and viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca). Both help your body make antibodies that will help protect you from getting seriously ill if you are exposed to COVID-19.

If you have questions about how the vaccines differ, talk to a member of the health care team.
Right now, vaccines are the best way to protect you against COVID-19. It's important to remember that:
  • No vaccine is 100 per cent effective, so even if you get the vaccine, there is a small chance you could still get COVID-19.
  • After a dose of the vaccine, it will take about two weeks for your body to build protection from the virus.
  • If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 during those two weeks or shortly before getting the vaccine, you could still get COVID-19.
Yes. After you get the vaccine, continue to follow the same public health recommendations you’re following now:
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Physically distance
  • Wear a mask if you use transit or enter a public building while you’re on a pass

For the most part, if you got the Pfizer mRNA vaccine for your first dose, you will get Pfizer again for your second dose. If you got the Moderna mRNA vaccine for your first dose, you may get either Moderna or Pfizer for your second dose. The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are safe to mix.

If you received the AstraZeneca vaccine for your first dose, you can pick AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna, depending on what is available, for your second dose. There are no safety concerns with getting a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as your second dose. 

You are likely to experience milder side effects if your second dose is the same type of vaccine as the first dose. If you have questions, please talk to a member of your health care team.‎


You don't need to remember what kind of vaccine you got, or when. Your vaccinations are being tracked for you.

If you complete the program before your second dose of the vaccine, you will get your second dose in your home community. Our health care staff can help you register online for your second dose before you leave the program, if you would like.‎


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