Two parties say COVID-19 vaccine to be free for all in B.C.

VANCOUVER — The leaders of British Columbia’s two major political parties say every person in the province will be eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine once one is approved and available.

John Horgan told a virtual town hall meeting Monday evening that if the NDP is elected on Oct. 24, it will provide free COVID-19 ­vaccines to whoever wants one.

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Horgan’s promise was quickly followed by a similar pledge from Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson, who said he couldn’t imagine charging people for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Horgan said providing a free COVID-19 vaccine will be part of the NDP’s recovery plan because a healthy population can rebuild the province’s economy.

The NDP’s $1.6-billion recovery plan also includes almost two million flu shots, 7,000 more long-term care workers and more options for at-home care.

Wilkinson had promised free flu shots earlier in the campaign, then matched the promise Horgan made on COVID-19.

“In what world would a life-saving vaccine not be free to British Columbians,” said Wilkinson in a post to his Twitter account.

The NDP promise also included making 45,000 high-dose influenza immunizations available to all those living in long-term care and assisted living facilities.

Horgan and several other NDP candidates fielded about a dozen questions from people who were identified by their first names only during the hour-long virtual town hall meeting. The participants asked questions about child care, Indigenous reconciliation, the opioid crises, the environment and support for rural communities.

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