Low Vaccination Rates in Interior Health Means Third Wave Omicron Hits Harder | infonews


FILE PHOTO – BC Health Minister Adrian Dix.

08 July 2022 – 14:54

British Columbia is entering a third wave of the Omicron variant of COVID as cases and hospitalizations rise.

While health authorities at a press conference today July 8 urged everyone to not only get vaccinated but also get vaccinated, the reality is that the risks are greater in areas like Interior Health where vaccination rates are lower.

“The risk of hospitalization is five times lower if you are vaccinated,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in response to a question about whether unvaccinated people were among those requiring hospitalization due to of COVID.

He said most people who need hospitalization or who die from the disease are over 80, but there are others who are over 70 or those with weakened immune systems who also get very sick from the disease.

The minister did not say how many, if any, unvaccinated people had to be hospitalized.

READ MORE: British Columbia to offer COVID-19 booster for ages 12 and older starting this fall

The interior health region is about five percent lower in all vaccination categories than the BC average and this is impacting health care in the region.

“In Interior Health, this is impacting for a number of reasons,” Dix said. “Overall, where the rate of transmission of the Omicron variant is higher – and right now it’s Interior Health, Vancouver Island Health and Northern Health – also by definition they will have the highest rates of health care workers. health absent due to illness.”

This is especially true in small communities where having only a few sick people can complicate service delivery.

Emergency departments at Clearwater and Merritt hospitals, for example, were forced to close at short notice due to staffing shortages, although these were not directly attributed to COVID.

READ MORE: Clearwater hospital emergency room closed again

There are 1.3 million residents of British Columbia who are eligible for the third dose but have not yet taken it. They were advised to wait until the fall to receive this third dose.

“That’s where we’re most at risk for respiratory disease,” said Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead of British Columbia’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, during the briefing. “We move indoors during the fall and winter. Your risk is highest and you want to get your recall when your risk is highest.

Vaccines are also modified to better combat the Omicron variant, so waiting for those is also a better option.

For those who feel the urgent need to get this reminder sooner, they can call the BC Vaccination line at 1-833-838-2323 and they will be accommodated.

There are also more than 200,000 people over the age of 70, or those with weakened immune systems, who have been told they are eligible for a fourth dose but have not yet taken advantage of it.

Nothing was said at the press conference about lowering the age to qualify for a fourth dose.

A vaccine for children aged six months to four years is expected to be approved in Canada shortly and should be available in British Columbia in early August, Dr. Ballem said.

As in much of the world, COVID cases are on the rise with the latest Omicron variant sub-variant (BA5) and BC will likely be on its third wave of Omicron.

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