Tuesday January 11, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends
As the daily number of new COVID cases in Island Health continues to set records — today a new high at 562 — the push by public health for people to get vaccinated is unrelenting.
Today Provincial Health Office Dr Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix both repeated their pleas for people to get their booster shot (third dose), or even to get their first dose if not yet vaccinated against COVID-19.
Today Henry said booster timing at the six-month interval is a balance of stopping transmission right now and aiming to build immunity for the longer term “for not just this wave” but also “whatever comes next in this pandemic”.
BC’s top doctor also clarified today that pregnant women can get a booster by phoning the vaccination centre at 1-833-838-2323, rather than using the online system which doesn’t offer flexibility around the six-month interval or pregnancy due date. Dr Henry wants to see flexibility re protecting women and providing transfer of immunity to fetus and newborn.
Omicron highly transmissible:
The Omicron variant is highly transmissible. Dr Henry has said for at least two weeks now that most people can expect to be exposed to the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, and that if you have cold or flu-like symptoms to now assume it’s a COVID (SARS-CoV-2) infection.
Again today, Dr Henry explained the reduced risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death if a person is fully vaccinated. Full vaccination has quickly become three doses (though that’s not official on the BC Vaccine Card yet). The third dose is generally available after a six-month interval following the date of a person receiving their second dose.
Last week Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr Richard Stanwick said people should move up their COVID booster appointments if they can (if already booked after their six-month interval from their second dose). That’s due to transmissibility, and the high number of people now eligible for their third dose (i.e. past six months or 182 days from their second dose).
Vaccination for children:
Dr Henry and Minister Dix particularly encouraged parents to make appointments for their children ages 5 to 11 years to receive vaccination against COVID-19.
Vaccination among children is 91% effective in preventing COVID complications, said Dr Katharine Smart, a pediatrician and President of the Canadian Medical Association today. Doctors — including Dr Henry and Dr Smart — say COVID is primarily a mild illness in children, but no one wants to see children deal with illness.
As of today’s statistics, 56 children ages 5 to 11 received their COVID shot in the previous 24 hours.
Minister Dix itemized today that 152,532 children in BC age 5 to 11 years have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and 189,814 have registered. “That leaves about 160,000 who are not currently registered,” said Dix.
Vaccination profile Island Health:
Vaccination progress is robust. Minister Dix reminds people that boosters require an appointment, but that first and second doses can be received on a drop-in basis.
In the last 24 hours, 56 kids age 5-11 got their COVID vaccination in Island Health. Most of the adult vaccinations done were with Moderna (about 10 times the number of Pfizer-BioNTech shots).
These are the vaccination statistics as of January 11, 2022, from the BC Centre for Disease Control dashboard:
|Vaccine Type||1st Dose||2nd Dose||3rd Dose (other)||TOTAL Administered||New Since Last Report|
Total cases surpass 20,000:
Total cases pandemic-to-date in Island Health stands at 22,574 today. That’s up by 4,740 (21% of total pandemic-to-date cases) in just 10 days at December 31, 2021.
The positivity rate is at its highest-ever point on the Island at 30.2%, surpassing the record of 29.1% on January 7, as well as 28.6% set January 6 and 27.2% the day before that. That’s above the current BC average of 23.9%.
Active hospitalizations inched up in number last week, reaching 65 today. Last week the range was 59 to 63; there were 11 people in ICU as of today’s numbers from the BC Centre for Disease Control. All of that up from 53 on December 31 at year-end 2021. Back on December 1 there were 49 hospitalizations (15 ICU), a week later December 8 through 13 hospitalizations were holding in the 33 to 34 range, then started to increase in number.
Today Dr Henry said that three people in their 20s are in ICU with COVID infection, and one person in their 30s. “That’s a preventable illness,” she said quite matter-of-factly, though it must be exasperating.
Total Island Health hospitalizations pandemic-to-date stands at 842. That’s up from 825 just before this past weekend, on January 7. In 2022 so far, the number of hospitalizations in Island Health has increased 4.7% (from 787 as seen December 31, 2021).
Different type of illness:
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry says the Omicron variant is producing less severe illness than the Delta variant, but that could in part be due to most people being immunized.
Even people who have received COVID-19 vaccination (including the booster) are acquiring the Omicron variant, says Dr Henry. In the last two weeks or so, she has said that everyone should expect to be exposed to Omicron at some point, and if experiencing COVID (respiratory or cold/flu-like symptoms) to assume it’s a COVID infection at this point.
‘Everyone will know someone who has COVID’, said Dr Henry this week. Island Social Trends is taking a simple Yes/No poll as to whether you know anyone directly (family, friend or co-worker) who has become infected with COVID. In a simple yes/no poll done by Island Social Trends during Jan 4 to 7, ‘yes’ was the answer given by 65% of respondents, and 35% no.
Apparently the number of deaths from COVID will not be as high with the Omicron variant. Vaccination is thought to be helping with immune response to the infection, helping to prevent the infection from becoming too severe.
COVID deaths to date at January 11, 2022 in Island Health stand at 147 (same as on January 7). Deaths were at 122 just over a month ago at December 1, 2021.
Dr Henry invites pregnant women to phone for COVID booster shots (January 11, 2022)
Omicron: 5th COVID variant is going strong (January 8, 2022)
Vancouver Island COVID at Jan 6 in Year-3 (January 6, 2022)
Vancouver Island COVID at Jan 5 in Year-3 (January 5, 2022)
PHO, Dix, Farnworth: health-care workers deserve everyone’s support (January 5, 2022)
COVID outbreaks at 5 long-term care homes in Island Health (January 5, 2022)
COVID rolls into 2022: tough couple of weeks ahead (January 4, 2022)