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Mom upset her teen was denied entry to Port Coquitlam gym after proof of vaccine card mix-up

Teens are being prevented from doing healthy activities, worries mom, anxious about vaccine for 16-year-old stepson after reports of heart inflammation; Ministry of Health says it is 'closely watching' how vaccines are working in B.C.
gym
Gym equipment is cleaned during COVID-19.

A Port Coquitlam mom is upset her unvaccinated stepson has been denied entry to a city gym after she paid for a monthly pass and was told it would be OK for him to enter without proof of vaccination.

She tells the Tri-City News the 16-year-old, who is looking for ways to keep healthy and busy after school, was allegedly allowed entry three times to gyms to work out at Hyde Creek Recreation Centre and Port Coquitlam Community Centre after she bought the pass on Sept. 14.

But his gym visits ended Wednesday, Sept. 22, she says, when a clerk denied him entry and adds her stepson now has nothing to do to keep busy in a productive way.

“It’s a public service, paid for with tax dollars, I have paid for the service, I asked the questions and now it’s being denied,” said Biance, who asked that her last name not be used to protect the youth.

The mom said she was surprised when she received a panic phone call from the teen and went immediately to the rec centre hoping to sort things out.

After a heated exchange, during which the mom presented information on the city’s website that said proof was needed only for adults 19 and older, she was told updated provincial health orders required proof of vaccination for those 12 years and older to enter the gym.

PORT COQUITLAM APOLOGIZES FOR VACCINE CARD MIX-UP

The city has since apologized for the mix-up, but Port Coquitlam spokesperson Ximena Ibacache said it occurred because the provincial health order changed.

“With the ever changing PHO, the fitness page was not updated in time to reflect the change in age,” Ibacache stated in an email to the Tri-City News.

“We apologize for the inconvenience this caused. If the resident would like a refund we would be happy to provide them that opportunity.”

Because the city follows the direction of the B.C. provincial health order requiring proof of first vaccination for indoor fitness classes and weight rooms (12 and older), it can’t make exceptions, Ibacache wrote.

She noted residents don’t need proof of vaccine to get into a city pool or for public skating. However, it’s needed for ice sports for adults 22 and older and hockey games.

“It’s not about the money,” said Biance, who blamed the city’s mixed messages and the B.C. government’s vaccine card requirement for her stepson’s predicament. 

She said she suspects many parents are in a similar dilemma if they aren’t comfortable getting COVID-19 shots for their kids yet don’t want them to miss out on some activities.

HEALTHY ACTIVITIES IMPORTANT FOR ADOLESCENTS

“I feel like what it’s gotten to now is you’re reducing people’s ability to engage in normal life and it’s not just adults anymore. It’s adolescents.”

Her concerns come as many experts worry about mental health among adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Exercise is one way to stay healthy, Biance says.

As to why her stepson isn’t vaccinated, Biance said she isn’t his legal guardian and can’t force him to get a jab while his father is out of the country on business.

Biance said she is vaccinated — reluctantly— but is worried about possible adverse reactions the teen might experience after hearing reports of heart inflammation in some vaccinated youth. 

And she’s not sure she will get shots for her children, aged five and six, even if B.C. makes the vaccine available.

“We are now asking adults and the wider community to make hard and fast decisions about what adolescents can and can’t do,” said Biance, who said while she may question the province’s vaccine roll out, she’s not an anti-vaxxer and doesn’t support protests at schools and hospitals.

“I just feel like kids should be able to make a choice to do something positive.”

HEART CONCERNS AMONG VACCINATED MALES UNDER AGE 30

Meanwhile, B.C.’s Ministry of Health said in a statement to the Tri-City News the vaccine is safe and “highly effective” and it is “closely watching how the vaccines are working here in B.C.”

“To date, the vaccines are proving to be highly effective in protecting individuals and slowing the spread of COVID-19 and reducing the number of new cases and outbreaks.”

As to reports about heart inflammation in youth after a COVID-19 shot, the ministry says cases are rare and mostly mild.

“Myocarditis following immunization with mRNA vaccines is a rare adverse event that has been identified,” the email stated.

“Incidence of myocarditis occur more frequently after the second dose of an mRNA vaccine at a rate of about 1 per 100,000 second doses, and it has been observed mostly in males under 30 years of age, usually within a week of vaccination.

“Most cases are mild and recover fully with no or conservative treatment. In B.C., we have ensured that health care providers are aware of this possibility, and how to diagnose and report this event when it occurs after mRNA vaccination.”

MINISTRY OF HEALTH SAYS VACCINES ARE SAFE

B.C. residents are encouraged to speak to their health practitioner if they have concerns.

Meanwhile, the ministry maintains getting a jab is the best way to prevent severe illness.

“We can expect that we’ll continue to see more cases, hospitalizations and people admitted into critical care among those who have not yet been vaccinated. That’s why the government continues to strongly encourage all eligible British Columbians to get their vaccine as soon as possible and protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities. Now that we have a very effective vaccine, COVID-19 is to a large extent a preventable disease.”

During the week of Sept. 12-18, the most recent information available, there were 111 cases of COVID-19 in the Tri-Cities.