Monday December 14, 2020 | VANCOUVER, BC [Updated 10 pm]
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor | Island Social Trends
Doses of vaccines to combat COVID-19 arrived in BC late last night. For Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry “this is momentous news” as it is “taking pressure off the health care system”. And frankly, it’s a moment that no one really could imagine would happen — at least not how, when or to what extent.
“We’re starting a new phase to protect people,” said Dr Henry, as she further announced that more doses of the new Pfizer mRNA vaccine will be available for all health authorities next week — the week of December 21 (that includes Island Health, the Interior, and the North). Expected timelines will depend on vaccine approval and availability. “As vaccines become more available, they will be provided to other priority groups throughout British Columbia.”
The 3,900 doses (975 per tray, times four trays) of Pfizer vaccine vials will be located at two injection sites in the BC lower mainland on Tuesday morning — one in Vancouver Coastal Health and the other in Fraser Health. The designated locations are centralized — where the vaccine recipients can travel to the vaccine in one stationary place (as the Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-low temperature storage right up until dilution and administration). And Dr Henry will be there to witness the first injection.
This is a historical moment, a key turning point of this long pandemic which is now in its 11th month. Front line health care workers have been given the option to be first in line for the first injections (a booster will be required in about 21 days, for greatest efficacy of the vaccine, according to data provided by Pfizer, the manufacturer).
Dr Henry says the vaccines are best utilized for workers on the health care frontline. That’s not only for protection of the health care professionals but also the patients they come into contact with. But she said today that the vaccine is not mandatory and that no one would be negatively impacted in terms of employment for not taking the vaccine.
All of the 3,900 doses that are ready for Tuesday will be used. The batch for booster shots will arrive in about three weeks, Dr Henry explained today.
She and Health Minister Adrian Dix of course encouraged people to continuing adhering to public health precautions, protocols and orders around COVID-19. While vaccines are here, there isn’t enough for everyone yet and transmission of the virus continues otherwise unchecked.
The only thing stopping transmission are the decisions each of us makes every day to physically distance, wear a mask, wash our hands frequently, and socialize only with our household bubble at this time.
“No event or gathering is completely safe. The virus continues to circulate in this community,” said Dr Henry today in her introductory comments in her joint media session with Minister Dix.
“Someone you spend time with may inadvertently bring the virus to your home or dinner table,” Dr Henry said as people around the province are in various phases of decision-making as to their Christmas celebration plans.
She explained that sitting for extended periods of time with loved one is not the same as the few minutes you spend in a grocery store wearing a mask and keeping distant.
She itemized a few ideas for safe Christmas time gatherings, says that “important connections can still happen at a distance and safely”:
- Do some doorway drop-offs of cookies or other treats, or meals.
- Host a holiday dinner on Zoom
- Coordinate the same meal or same table decorations
- Cook together (each in separate households), then share the food safely.
- Cook for a large group but deliver the meals.
- Share a holiday playlist and perhaps host a karaoke party.
There will be a time when people can be together again, was the message today. “But we are not there yet. There are no safe gatherings right now,” said Dr Henry, as the virus plays hovoc in BC.
BC COVID stats at December 14:
There were 2,146 new COVID-19 test-positive cases to report today (16 epi-linked) for the recent three-day reporting period of Friday December 11 through Monday December 14. That brings the total cases in BC this year to date to 42,943.
Presently there are 10,039 active cases in BC. Of those, 359 people are in hospital (87 of whom are in intensive care or critical care). Another 11,177 people in BC are self-isolating due to exposure to a known case.
In long-term care and assisted living facilities there are 55 active outbreaks, as well as seven in acute care. Presently there are 1,305 residents of long-term care and 726 staff who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Sadly there were 49 deaths to report (over three days), which is a very high rate for BC, now deep in the second wave of this pandemic.
“We are not through this storm yet,” said Dr Henry last week.
Vancouver Island COVID stats at December 14:
As of today December 14, Vancouver Island has tallied 787 cases of COVID-19 this year to date. Today there were 16 new cases (part of 29 over the three-day weekend reporting period).
New cases on Vancouver Island over the past three days are seen across all age groups from child to 89 years. This is clear evidence of active community transmission.
Presently there are 90 active cases, which is down from 161 last Thursday, which comparatively is good news.
Presently seven people are in hospital due to COVID, with five of those in ICU.
School exposures today are listed to a total of seven: Nanaimo (3), Salt Spring Island (2), Campbell River (1) and Port Alberni (1).
Today’s COVID-19 death count in Island Health remains at eight. That’s up from seven at December 9 and six on December 7; before that there had been no new deaths since September 28.
Meeting with faith-based leaders:
Again today Premier John Horgan, Minister Dix and Dr Henry held a virtual meeting with faith-based leaders in BC. This was their seventh such meeting this year (since the pandemic was declared in March) to help that community maintain COVID-19 distancing protocols during the pandemic.