Skip to main content


General FAQs

For questions and answers in Chinese, Punjabi, Farsi and French, visit the BCCDC website. 

Drop-ins are now welcome at all VCH clinics on a first-come, first-served basis, depending on your eligibility and vaccine availability. People 12+ are eligible to be vaccinated and you are eligible for a second dose at 28 days after your first dose. Find a VCH vaccination clinic near you.

While registration and booking using the provincial Get Vaccinated system is still encouraged, these clinics will allow eligible people to drop-in and receive a vaccine without a scheduled appointment.


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found mostly in animals. In humans, they can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). The illness caused by this relatively new coronavirus has been named COVID-19.

For the latest on symptoms related to COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 symptoms page.

If you think you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, use the B.C. self-assessment tool to determine if you need to be tested.‎

Agencies such as the World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the BC Centre for Disease Control are continually evaluating the latest scientific evidence to determine how to best prevent and control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

COVID-19 is primarily spread through droplet transmission, which is consistent with all other coronaviruses. This type of transmission from person to person occurs when infected people cough or sneeze and produce droplets. There is evidence that the coronavirus may be spread before people realize they have symptoms.

For tips on prevention, visit our COVID-19 prevention page.


VCH and the province of B.C. have been regularly sharing advice and tips on how people can protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Vaccines are the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19. Vaccines don't just protect the people getting vaccinated; they protect everyone around them too. The more people in a community who are vaccinated and therefore protected from COVID-19, the harder it is for it to spread. Other important measures include staying home if sick, washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, maintaining physical distance when possible in public settings and wearing a mask in indoor public places if you are not fully vaccinated. 

Visit our COVID-19 prevention page.


Please refer to the Province-wide restrictions page on the Government of B.C. website.

For more information, visit BC's Restart Plan.


If you think you may have COVID-19, visit our If you are sick page for more information. 

Visit our COVID-19 testing page to find out which symptoms require testing and where you can get tested. 

COVID-19 cases are tracked by Public Health teams within the province's health authorities, which conduct case and contact follow-up for every person who tests positive in the province.

In VCH, staff from Public Health follow up directly with every person in our region who tests positive for COVID-19. If a person is a close contact of someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, then they will also be contacted to let them know. Both cases and their contacts will be asked to self-isolate, so they don’t spread illness to others. Contact tracing helps break the chains of transmission by preventing people who may not know they are infectious from spreading it to others. If you have been identified as a COVID-19 case or close contact, please know that VCH will contact you directly and provide further instructions.


People who are awaiting the results of their COVID-19 test must self-isolate until they receive their results.

People who test positive for COVID-19  must self-isolate, which means staying home and avoiding contact with others, for at least 10 days after the start of symptoms.

People identified as close contacts and at risk of developing COVID-19 must self-isolate for 14 days after their last contact with an ill person. VCH Public Health will contact you directly to give you instructions if you are an identified contact.

People who have arrived in Canada from international travel must self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.

Learn more on how to self-isolate.

A case is a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

A contact is a person who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 and is at risk of getting ill. Public Health will instruct contacts to self-isolate for 14 days.

An exposure is when a person with COVID-19 has had close contact with others during their infectious period. An exposure does not mean you are infected with COVID-19.

A cluster is when Public Health determines there is a link between two or more individuals with COVID-19. 

An outbreak is when a Medical Health Officer identifies transmission within a setting and additional public health measures are required to limit the spread of COVID-19. The exception to this is in a long-term care home, when Public Health may declare an outbreak and put a facility under precautions after identifying a single case.

Masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces throughout B.C. to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 as B.C. prepares for the fall and respiratory illness season. 

An Aug. 24 order from the provincial health officer requires people 12 years of age and older to wear masks in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status. These settings include: 

  • malls, shopping centres, coffee shops and retail and grocery stores;

  • liquor and drug stores;

  • airports, city halls, libraries, community and recreation centres;

  • restaurants, pubs and bars (unless seated);

  • on public transportation, in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle;

  • areas of office buildings where services to the public are provided;

  • common areas of sport and fitness centres when not engaged in physical activity;

  • common areas of post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations; and

  • inside schools for all K-12 staff, visitors and students in grades 4-12. 

This temporary order will be reassessed as the B.C. vaccine card requirement is fully implemented in certain social and recreational settings, as announced on Aug. 23.

The Provincial Health Officer has issued an order for all individuals, places of work, and businesses across the province. Please keep up to date with current orders by referring to the Government of B.C. website: Orders, notices, and guidance

For more healthy practices, visit our COVID-19 prevention page or the Sneezes and Diseases website.

Learn about BC's Restart: A plan to bring us back together

For a full listing of current provincial health officer orders, visit the Government of B.C. website: Orders, notices, and guidance.


If you had COVID-19 you should still get both doses (if it’s a two-dose series) of the vaccine once you have recovered. Your body naturally generates antibodies when you get COVID-19, but we do not know how long immunity lasts, or how many antibodies your body produces. This is why some people have had COVID-19 more than once, and why it is recommended you still get vaccinated. You do not need to get a COVID-19 disease or antibody test before getting your vaccine.

People who are sick with COVID-19 should wait until they have recovered from acute illness and public health has told them they no longer need to isolate. It is important that you wait the full isolation period before getting the vaccine so that you do not expose people at your vaccination clinic to the virus.

For more information, visit ImmunizeBC FAQs and common COVID-19 questions on BCCDC.


If you have concerns that a specific business is not following public health orders, or concerns about people not following provincial health orders for gatherings, you can contact your local municipality.


Your children may be worried about their family, friends and themselves. It is important to talk to your children about this disease and give them some reassurance. It may be difficult to know what to say or how much information to share. At the link are some resources that can help support you in your efforts to provide information about COVID-19 to your children.



Schools in the VCH region have robust safety plans in place. Schools are considered a controlled environment because they include a consistent group of people, such as a class setting, and implement measures such as physical distancing. ‎

VCH’s Public Health team does case and contact follow-up for COVID-19 cases in schools and we continue to support school communities to manage cases if and when they occur. Should a student or staff member test positive for COVID-19, our immediate priority is to notify individuals who may be exposed in the most direct manner, which may include a letter or a public notification regarding an exposure at a school. If you have not been directly notified of an exposure, it is safe for your child to remain in school.



All employers must follow enhanced protocols mandated by the Public Health and Safety Guidelines and WorkSafeBC. If for any reason you are concerned about the safety of yourself or your colleagues at your workplace, contact WorkSafeBC.

Do not go to work if you have cold, flu or COVID-like symptoms. Get tested and stay home. For more healthy practices, visit our COVID-19 Prevention page or the Sneezes and Diseases website. For information on the latest testing guidelines, please visit our COVID-19 testing page.

Every positive case of COVID-19 in the VCH region is directly contacted by our Public Health team for case and contact follow-up. If you are identified as a close contact of your co-worker, Public Health will contact you and provide instructions for self-isolation. VCH does not comment on specific COVID-19 cases for patient privacy reasons and only issues public notices about a potential exposure when it is not able to reach all the close contacts of someone who has tested positive.

Public exposures

Vaccines are the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19. Vaccines don't just protect the people getting vaccinated; they protect everyone around them too. Getting immunized, staying home when sick, visiting others outdoors or in small groups, wearing masks in indoor public spaces, increasing ventilation, and cleaning your hands are all important measures that will reduce transmission.

Most importantly, if you have cold, flu or COVID-like symptoms, get tested and stay home. 

For more healthy practices, visit our COVID-19 Prevention page or the Sneezes and Diseases website. For information on the latest testing guidelines, please visit our COVID-19 testing page.


VCH will contact people who are close contacts or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 directly. VCH will only issue a public exposure alert if it determines there is a risk of public exposure and they are unable to contact everyone who may have been exposed. If public notification has not occurred, Public Health has been able to identify close contacts and safely isolate them while they monitor for symptoms for 14 days.



For the safety of our patients and health care providers, we are restricting visitors to essential visits only at all of our sites. Essential visits include:

  • Visits for compassionate care, including critical illness, palliative care, hospice care, end of life and medical assistance in dying (MAID)

  • Visits paramount to the patient or client's physical care and mental well-being, including:

    • Assistance with feeding, mobility, personal care

    • Communication assistance for persons with hearing, visual, speech, cognitive, intellectual or memory impairments

    • Assistance by designated representatives for persons with disabilities, including provision of emotional support

    • Visits for supported decision-making

    • Visits for pediatric care, labour and delivery

  • Existing registered volunteers providing the services described above.

  • Visits required to move belongings in or out of a client's room.

  • Police, correctional officers and peace officers accompanying a patient/client for security reasons.

Essential visits shall be limited to one visitor per patient/client within the facility at a time, and a visitor who is a child may be accompanied by one parent, guardian or family member.

Virtual visits are strongly encouraged and supported where in-person visits are not possible.

Review of decisions about essential visits: Families and visitors can ask for a review of a decision about what is considered an essential visit by contacting the VCH Patient Care Quality Office.

Staff are well prepared and have protocols in place to ensure any patient that presents to a hospital with symptoms of COVID-19 does not pose a risk to others. These new rules are in place as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of patients, staff and physicians.

We are also taking extra precautions at our ambulatory and outpatient clinics, including pre-screening for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 prior to any clinic visits. We will ask that patients, if clinically indicated, defer their visit until their signs and symptoms resolve. If the visit is required, we will explore ways to do the visit virtually or with appropriate precautions in the respective clinic.

As we provide health-care services during COVID-19, keeping you safe continues to be our top priority. Across VCH, our infection prevention and control standards are in place to protect our patients, clients, staff and physicians. For more information, please visit the Care during COVID-19 page.

During the pandemic, emergency departments across VCH are prepared to safely receive and care for all individuals who experience health conditions that require urgent and emergency care. The public is advised to seek urgent and emergent care without delay, to prevent the exacerbation of medical conditions.


Long-term care & assisted living

Since the beginning of our COVID-19 vaccination campaign in December 2020, the frequency and severity of outbreaks in long-term care homes in our region has decreased dramatically, however, occasionally transmission does occur. The health and safety of residents and health care providers at long-term care homes remains an utmost priority as part of Vancouver Coastal Health’s COVID-19 response. We take critical steps to ensure the safety of patients, residents, staff and community with early identification of cases, prompt isolation, testing, monitoring, and execution of proper infection prevention and control practices. During an outbreak at a long-term care home, we make every effort to mitigate transmission of COVID-19. Outbreak measures can include enhanced cleaning, appropriate use of personal protective equipment by staff and other infection prevention and control precautions at the facility.


During an outbreak at a long-term care home, all residents are closely monitored and will be tested if they develop respiratory or gastrointestinal illness compatible with COVID-19.


VCH Public Health teams actively monitor and trace cases of COVID-19 and will notify all contacts of cases exposed to the virus in the most direct manner possible. Family members who may have been exposed will be asked to monitor themselves for symptoms and in some cases may be asked to self-isolate. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, use the B.C. self-assessment tool to determine if you need further testing for COVID-19.


Yes. There are no restrictions on removing a resident from long-term care to your home. There are restrictions on moving them to another facility, and there is a restriction on bringing the resident back into the facility they were removed from. Residents removed from the facility will not be able to re-enter until health authorities are certain there is no risk in doing so, which could be for an extended period.


We reduce the risk of potential exposure to COVID-19 with measures including:

1. Enhanced cleaning: Increased cleaning frequency to high touch areas such as the side rails, tables and elevator buttons. This should reduce the risk of transmission of virus from objects.

2. Symptom Monitoring and Testing: To prevent transmission, staff and residents are carefully monitored for symptoms. Testing is provided where appropriate.

3. Isolation of Cases: To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we take all possible steps to keep residents who have COVID-19 in their rooms while they are recovering.

4. Physical Distancing: During an outbreak, group and social activities are reduced to decrease the risk of transmission.

5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): For staff and resident safety, staff will use PPE such as masks, gloves, and gowns.

6. Limiting staff to one location: Staff work at only one location. They are not moving between facilities.

7. Visitor Policy:  Provincial guidelines for visitation in long-term care homes and seniors’ assisted living residences require each facility to develop written safety plans.

When there have been no new cases for two incubation periods we can declare an outbreak over. COVID-19 has an incubation period of 14 days, so 28 days must pass with no new cases to declare an outbreak over.


If you have questions about COVID-19, please 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319) or text 604-630-0300 from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

At a long-term care home, The Director of Care is the main contact for families. For families with additional questions, who require emotional support or need assistance navigating the health-care system, please contact the VCH LTC Family Support Line at 1-844-824-2219 or locally 604-875-4953. Please note that the VCH LTC Family Support line cannot provide specific resident status reports.

In response to COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has created flexibility in the policy on Temporary Absences from Long Term Care (LTC). This change allows residents to leave their LTC home for a maximum of 90 days in a calendar year.

Additional information about temporary absences from long-term care during COVID-19:

Recognizing that long-term care (LTC) and seniors’ assisted living (AL) residences are home to some of our most vulnerable citizens who are at risk of serious complications from COVID-19, the Province implemented restrictions to reduce the risk of transmission for residents and staff during the earlier phases of the pandemic.

While the restrictions were necessary to keep residents and staff safe, we know they have been challenging for many residents and their families. With the recent increased vaccination rates and reopening in the broader communities, visitation restrictions for LTC and seniors’ AL for residents, families and visitors will ease with a new visitation policy in effect on July 19, 2021. For more information on the new visitor guidelines, visit the BCCDC website.


Please refer to the Government of B.C. website on current public health orders that may restrict travel to and from your location: Province-wide restrictions.


If you do not have any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and require an assessment or documentation for travel outside of Canada, please visit our Assessment for travel page and Government of Canada travel page.

Proof of vaccination and the BC Vaccine Card
Starting September 13, 2021, you need proof of vaccination to access some events, services and businesses. For more information, visit the Government of BC website

You can register to get the BC Vaccine Card on the Government of BC website.


By order of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), proof of vaccination is required to access some events, services and businesses. For more information on who the requirement applies to and what the requirement covers, please visit the Government of BC website.


To give everyone time to get their BC Vaccine Card, up to and including September 26, 2021, you can show other forms of proof of vaccination.

For a list of acceptable forms of proof of vaccination, please visit the Government of BC website.


Page printed:

Copyright © Vancouver Coastal Health. All Rights Reserved.