Home Health COVID-19 COVID Year 2: Vancouver Island at June 7

COVID Year 2: Vancouver Island at June 7

Nearly 280,000 people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine "made the right choice", says Dr Henry. "It was essential when we had high case rates in March and April... you helped protect you and your community" by helping to "stop transmission in BC". (June 3, 2021)

Tuesday June 8, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends

A very robust and enthusiastic reporting of COVID in BC was delivered by Deputy Public Health Officer Dr Réka Gustafson yesterday from Vancouver, together with Health Minister Adrian Dix from Victoria. As Dix suggested, there were a few technical glitches (as at one point one presenter spoke over the other), but otherwise it was almost ‘another day at the COVID podium’.

After more than a year of frequent COVID-19 updates by Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry together with Minister Dix, the routine is set: deliver the stats, offer analysis and prescribe direction, then respond to media questions. Somehow Dr Gustafson makes the same seem different, and the exercise serves to refresh media interest while achieving the same goals.

Dr Réka Gustafson, BC CDC
BC Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Réka Gustafson during June 7, 2021 COVID update.

Case counts are slowly coming down as the days roll on through this pandemic. Gustafson now nudges media and the public to look at seven-day trends instead of daily case numbers. For the record, Island Social Trends has in fact been watching trends from the start of this pandemic (even before the pandemic was officially declared in March 2020) in addition to building a body of documentation, day by day, especially in the first year of the pandemic.

Levels of immunity:

As was the case last week in Dr Henry’s start-of-the-week presentation, the big push from BC Health is of course still about immunization. The greater percentage of the population that is vaccinated the further along society and economy can relax and open up toward some sort of ‘new normal’.

Generally speaking, community (herd) immunity is given a benchmark of 70% — getting beyond that threshold provides a great level of flexibility with public health restrictions and movement overall throughout society and economy.

Time between doses:

The trick here is that complete immunization (at least with the current vaccine products) requires two doses, with a suitable time interval in between. BC is working hard now to instill in British Columbians that two doses is full vaccination, with the first shot being only half the exercise. The interval of time between shots has shifted around over the last several months, landing now at eight weeks (per Dr Henry last week) after reaching an outer frontier of 16 weeks (when vaccine supply was less certain).

Vaccination stats:

Dr Bonnie Henry
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry pausing to listen to a media question during her June 3, 2021 COVID update teleconference.

No one should be underestimating the commitment and intensity of the vaccination effort. As of June 7, there had been 3,635,795 vaccinations done in BC, which means 385,634 vaccinations were administered in the past seven days (since May 31 stats). That seven-day accomplishment reached 8.3% of the population age 12 years of age and older. That’s quite an organizational feat on the part of the public health system.

The 3,635,795 vaccinations done in BC to June 7 covers 74% of the BC population age 18+ and 72% of people age 12+. Of that, 91.4% is first dose only, given that 314,246 of 8.6% have received their second dose (not insignificant, but of necessity needing to be a growing number).

Over the past three days (period of June 4 over the weekend into June 7) there were 140,750 doses administered in BC, which Dix says were mostly first doses.

Registration for vaccinations continues at the BC Government’s Get Vaccinated website.

Hospitalizations not increasing:

Hospitalizations and the number of people ending up in ICU are still high at 199 and 63 respectively (down from 249 and 78 respectively just one week ago). All of that is down from the highs of 511 and 183 respectively across BC (those latter figures given by Minister Dix yesterday).

On Vancouver Island (Island Health Authority) the number of hospitalizations at June 7 is now at three, with no one in ICU. Total hospitalizations during the entire pandemic has been 249 in Island Health.

elbow bump, masks
Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr Richard Stanwick is hoping that people will still opt for elbow bumps over hugs, as COVID is still circulating during this summer 2021 economic reopening in BC.

Getting registered:

Anyone 12 years or older may now register and book their appointment online: https://gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated
Or by calling 1 833 838-2323 (7 am to 7 pm).

  • First responder and worker program: Health authorities are contacting workplaces to arrange for workers to be vaccinated. This program is continuing to be phased in, focusing on communities that are at highest risk.
  • AstraZeneca pharmacy program: All remaining AstraZeneca vaccine is being held for dose-two booster immunizations. Participating pharmacies are listed on the BC Pharmacy Association website: https://www.bcpharmacy.ca/resource-centre/covid-19/vaccination-locations

Pharmacies are generally carrying the AstraZeneca product. Yesterday Dr Henry said that people who received their first dose as AstraZeneca can safely receive their second dose as one of the mRNA types (i.e. Pfizer or Moderna), as advised by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

Vancouver Island COVID profile:

Here on Vancouver Island we’ve fared better, overall. Back on May 7 Dr Henry did say on the broader scope that “no area of the province has been spared except maybe here on Vancouver Island”, as to the impact of COVID-19.

Dr Richard Stanwick
Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr Richard Stanwick addressing media on May 28, 2021.

And on May 28, Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr Richard Stanwick said (as reported by Island Health on June 1) that essentially Island Health has kept a tight focus and has achieved “good compliance” amidst things that can be controlled in the health care system and particularly in long-term care (where there have been only three deaths from COVID).

In the long-term care sector Island Health has been proactive by “investigating more complaints in a single year” than other health authorities, as well as conducting more investigations and hearings which leads to better compliance. “We’ve kept a lid on bad actors,” Dr Stanwick said in a response to Island Social Trends on Friday.

He also ventured to say that there has “not been the same open resistance” to public health measures in the island region compared to other regions.

Dr Stanwick explained in a response to Island Social Trends that due to essentially fewer crises in the long-term care system that attention has been able to turn to more use of environmental health officers, education in the community, and working directly with WorkSafe around workplace protections.

Dr Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Officer, Island Health
Dr Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer, Island Health [Island Health]

More COVID cases as economy opens up:

On Friday Dr Stanwick said that he expects more COVID cases to happen as the economy and social activity begins to open us. “We will see a mini blip,” he told Island Social Trends, as conditions will “create an opportunity for the virus to circulate”. Yesterday Dr Gustafson said pretty much the same thing… case counts will increase as community activity increases.

“But it’s important to get businesses open again,” he said, and for people to gather on a small scale “and enjoy some physical contact”, said Dr Stanwick last week. He’s hoping for elbow bumps ahead of hugs (compared to Dr Henry’s call for a day soon in BC where everyone is encouraged to hug).

For most of the pandemic Island Social Trends stats show that the age 40 to 49 age group is under-represented in the COVID test-positive stats compared to the BC average. On Friday Dr Stanwick said that’s due in part to having a “generally younger and healthy” population on the island, and perhaps the sort of job activities and recreation of that age group.

Vancouver Island COVID statistics (to June 7, 2021):

For Vancouver Island (Island Health) let’s look at the statistics as of June 7 in this second year (and second summer) of the COVID-19 pandemic (the pandemic was first officially declared on March 17, 2020).

BC COVID, Island Health, 2021
COVID-19 dashboard for Vancouver Island at June 7, 2021 with graph showing cases by day, pandemic to date [BC CDC]

Throughout the pandemic, Vancouver Island has experienced a less acute impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 5,076 total COVID cases in Island Health at June 7 does show 17 more cases over the past week. That percentage consistently remains at about 3.5% of the BC Provincial total cases. | See current BC CDC COVID dashboard

There are presently 56 active cases of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island (down from 102 on May 31, 161 on May 21, and from 235 on May 7). But still there were nine more cases in the past three days (June 4 to 7), spread across all ages between age 10 and 89 years (except those age 70 to 79 years) on Vancouver Island. So it’s not over.

Presently three people are hospitalized due to COVID-19 (none in ICU); that’s down from seven and three at May 31, from 11 hospitalizations on May 21 and 15 hospitalizations on May 7.

No new hospitalizations in past week:

There have been 249 hospitalizations due to COVID infection in Island Health since the start of the pandemic. [June 7, 2021 BC CDC]

There have been 249 hospitalizations in Island Health to date. That was an increase of only two new admissions since May 26.

The stability of that 249 hospitalization tally is a significant indicator of the transmission of COVID slowly down and/or the impact of vaccinations to prevent against serious illness and hospitalization.

Long-term care stable:

As has been the case for a few months now, there are presently no outbreaks in long-term care, assisted living or independent living within the Island Health authority.

Yesterday Minister Dix said that 33,060 long-term care residents province-wide have received their first dose, with 28,458 having received a second dose of COVID vaccination. Meanwhile, 41,449 long-term care workers have received a first dose, with 27,694 having received a second dose across BC.

population, vancouver island
The population of Vancouver Island was 870,297 as of 2019. Nearly half (401,700) live in the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria. [Source: Wikipedia]

Positivity rate:

Positivity is determined by the number of positive test results found from among the number of people tested, so the metric is less robust than it might appear to be.

That said, the COVID test positivity rate on Vancouver Island was impressively down to 1.1 at May 31 where it remains in the June 7 stats; presently it’s at 3.5% provincially.

Note that about three weeks ago (on May 21) the positivity rate was 3.9% on Vancouver Island, so the number of positive tests being found (among those being tested) is dropping. The success in that is considered to be in large part due to the protection being afforded by an increasing number of people getting vaccinated against the virus.

Deaths due to COVID infection:

Dr Bonnie Henry
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry during June 3, 2021 COVID update said that almost 280,000 people have received the AstraZeneca vaccine: “You did make the right choice.”

There have been 41 deaths on Vancouver Island due to COVID-19. The latest recorded COVID death in Island Health was reported on May 31, which pretty much shows the power of vaccination being applied robustly in the long-term care system and older community overall through the age-based immunization program (where BC’s eldest citizens have been prioritized for vaccines).

It should be noted that deaths ‘due to COVID’ are those among people who have tested positive for the COVID-19 infection (SARS-CoV-2).

There is a supportable argument that other deaths may have occurred in BC due to other aspects of COVID pressures upon individuals, families and societies which might include drug overdoses, suicides from financial or social despair, domestic violence outcomes, or fear of COVID preventing people from seeking timely medical care for other conditions.

Island Health vaccinations to date:

So far, 603,831 doses of COVID vaccine have been administered by Island Health (at June 7). Of all doses administered in Island Health, 43,144 have been second doses.

immunization, clinic
Large immunization clinic in Langford at the Eagle Ridge Community Centre arena. [Island Social Trends]

Of vaccinations to June 7 in Island Health, the majority have been mRNA-type vaccinations: 457,296 Pfizer (of which 26,411 are second doses, and 124,220 Moderna of which 16,108 are second doses); the viral vector type AstraZeneca vaccine product has been administered to 22,315 people so far on Vancouver Island (625 have been second doses).

Slower vaccinations in Sooke area:

Some areas of the Island Health region are showing slower vaccine uptake, said Dr Stanwick last week. Some of the lowest uptake has been in the Sooke area, while the highest is among the small islands (Pender, Galiano and Mayne) which show 87% first-dose vaccination coverage.

In areas where less vaccination has happened, it may have to do with lack of transportation options or less skill with the registration process, suggested Dr Stanwick in his chat with media May 28. Small local areas with high vaccination are often due to a whole-community approach done all at once.

COVID in schools:

Schools have remained open in BC during the pandemic (except for during the first wave in mid-March to mid-May in 2020). Dr Henry continues to insist — with strong measure of evidence — that schools are safer for children than being enitrely in the general community. That will be more so the case now that teens ages 12 to 17 can now be vaccinated in BC (vaccination for that age group opened up on May 20, 2021).

Island Health, school exposures
Island Health contacts families directly if there is concern about exposure to COVID-19 in schools.

Presently no schools on Vancouver Island are listed as having COVID exposures, which is down from six exposures listed just a week ago.

COVID in children & youth:

Here are some good signs that vaccination is leading to reduced COVID transmission in the community.

To the last available date for age data (June 7, 2021), 375 children under the age of 10 have tested positive for COVID-19 on Vancouver Island during the whole pandemic — that number has not changed since May 31. That compares to 8,253 throughout BC (which is up by 94 cases since May 31).

On Vancouver Island there have been 607 cases of COVID-19 in the age 10 to 19 cohort (which is up by three in the past week), while 604 in the 10 to 19 age cohort have tested positive (15,412 throughout BC).

COVID, age, Island Health
Distribution of COVID-19 cases by age in Island Health during the pandemic to date [BC CDC June 7, 2021]

To keep perspective however, the cases keep coming: over the past weekend in Island Health there were four more cases in children up to age 10 and five more cases in the 10 to 19 year age cohort. That combined total of nine cases in kids is the same number as acquired by people in all the adult age groups combined over the past weekend.

Clinics & pharmacies:

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to everyone age 12+ in BC. Registration is available online at Register to get vaccinated (‘Get Vaccinated’ government link).

The government-run clinics administer primarily the Pfizer and Moderna products. Youth ages 12 to 17 years will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, said Dr Henry on May 20, though on May 31 she had to admit that 12 teenagers mistakenly received the Moderna vaccine at a clinic this past weekend (though she added that Health Canada is expected to approve the use of Moderna in teens age 12 to 17 years quite soon).

Pharmacies are generally carrying the AstraZeneca product. Yesterday Dr Henry said that people who received their first dose as AstraZeneca can safely receive their second dose as one of the mRNA types (i.e. Pfizer or Moderna), as advised by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

Participating pharmacies are listed on the BC Pharmacy Association website.

Mix & match ok, but repeat-same is standard:

On June 3 Dr Henry said that vaccine types can be ‘mixed and matched’, but that her personal preference is to stick with the same type for both doses (based on her reference to ‘vaccination fundamentals’).

To date (June 7), 278,065 people in BC have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. On June 3 Dr Henry said that the nearly 280,000 people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine “made the right choice”, adding that “it was essential when we had high case rates in March and April… you helped protect you and your community”. She seemed very pleased to say that helped to “stop transmission in BC”.

Today June 8, the AstraZeneca issue was revisited in the COVID joint statement from Dr Henry and Minister Dix: “There is no wrong choice to make.”

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===== COVID INFORMATION LINKS (provided by BC Government):

For information on getting your second dose: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/dose-2

Register for your vaccine now: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/register Or call 1 833 838-2323 (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/register%20Or%20call%201%20833%20838-2323)

For vaccine information, visit the BCCDC dashboard: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/data Or: www.bccdc.ca

Provincial health officer’s orders and guidance:

To see the May 20, 2021, presentation, visit: http://news.gov.bc.ca/files/20210520_PHO-Presentation.pdf

Orders: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics/covid-19-novel-coronavirus

Guidance on restrictions: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/restrictions

The latest updates, guidance and information on COVID-19, and where to get tested:

The latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and to find a testing centre near you: http://www.bccdc.ca/
Or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.

Mental health support:

Mental health and anxiety support: www.bouncebackbc.ca
Or: www.anxietycanada.com
Or: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/about-covid-19/mental-well-being-during-covid-19
Or: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/virtual-supports-covid-19

Non-health related information:

Financial, child care and education support, travel, transportation and essential service information: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.

COVID-19 exposure events, updates and information by health authority:
BCCDC (flights, work sites, etc): http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/public-exposures
Fraser Health: fraserhealth.ca/covid19exposure
Interior Health: https://news.interiorhealth.ca/news/public-exposures/
Island Health: https://www.islandhealth.ca/learn-about-health/covid-19/outbreaks-and-exposures
Northern Health: https://www.northernhealth.ca/health-topics/outbreaks-and-exposures
Vancouver Coastal Health: http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/public-exposures

For the latest videos and livestreaming of COVID-19 media availabilities, visit:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BCProvincialGovernment/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BCGovNews
YouTube: www.youtube.com/ProvinceofBC