Home Health COVID-19 COVID Year 2: Vancouver Island at May 31

COVID Year 2: Vancouver Island at May 31

The economy opening up now will push up COVID case numbers: "It will create an opportunity for the virus to circulate." ~ Dr Richard Stanwick

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.

June 1, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated June 8, 2021]

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

Yesterday the month of May wrapped up with both optimism about society and economy opening up during this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, but with many reminders of much yet to be done as Health Minister Adrian Dix addressed British Columbians yesterday in his joint media session with Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry.

The big push from BC Health is of course still about immunization. As of May 31, there had been 3,250,161 vaccinations done in BC (69.7% of adults age 18+, and 66.1% of people age 12+), of which 179,954 were second doses (3.91% of the population that is age 12+). And as of this past weekend almost 300,000 people have been registered for their second dose within the Get Vaccinated immunization program.

Hospitalizations and the number of people ending up in ICU are still high at 249 and 78 respectively, though that is down from the highs of 511 and 183 respectively across 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 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 this health 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”.

“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”. 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 has noted 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 May 31, 2021):

Let’s look at the statistics as of month-end May 31 in this second year (and second summer) of the COVID-19 pandemic (the pandemic was first officially declared mid-March 2020).

COVID, Vancouver Island
COVID-19 dashboard for Vancouver Island at May 31, 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 5,059 total COVID cases in Island Health at May 31 are about 3.5% of the BC Provincial total cases (fairly consistent over the past month). | See current BC CDC COVID dashboard

There are presently 102 active cases of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island (down from 161 on May 21, and from 235 on May 7), with only one new case on May 31.

South Vancouver Island, COVID
COVID cases to date on South Vancouver Island (at May 30, 2021), reported May 31, 2021 by BC CDC.

Presently seven people are hospitalized due to COVID-19 (one in ICU); that’s down from 11 hospitalizations on May 21 and 15 hospitalizations on May 7. There have been 249 hospitalizations in Island Health to date (an increase of 19 over the past three weeks).

There are presently no outbreaks in long-term care, assisted living or independent living within the Island Health authority.

The COVID test positivity rate on Vancouver Island is now impressively down to 1.1 at May 31, whereas just 10 days ago it was at 3.9% (provincially it’s presently at 5.0). That’s due in large part to the protection being afforded by an increasing number of people getting vaccinated against the virus.

There have been 41 deaths on Vancouver Island due to COVID-19. That includes one more in Island Health yesterday.

Dr Bonnie Henry, May 31 2021
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry delivered powerful thoughts and a call to action for Indigenous peoples in response to recent news of 215 children’s bodies found buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School [Victoria – May 31, 2021]

Island Health vaccinations to date:

So far, 541,448 doses of COVID vaccine have been administered by Island Health (at May 31), which shows an impression number of vaccinations administered over the past weekend — 25,276 more than in the May 28 tally. Of all doses administered in Island Health, 27,492 have been second doses.

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

Of vaccinations to May 31 in Island Health, the majority have been mRNA-type vaccinations (407,213 Pfizer and 112,126 Moderna); the viral vector type AstraZeneca vaccine product has been administered to 22,109 people so far on Vancouver Island (397 of which are second doses).

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 often has to do with lack of transportation options or less skill with the registration process. Small 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 some measure of evidence — that schools are safer for children than being in the general community. That will be more so the case now that teens ages 12 to 17 can now be vaccinated in BC (as of May 20, 2021).

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

Presently six schools on Vancouver Island are listed as having COVID exposures, with presently none in the west shore or Sooke.

COVID in children & youth:

To the last available date for age data (May 31, 2021), 375 children under the age of 10 have tested positive for COVID-19 on Vancouver Island (compared to 8,159 throughout BC), while 604 in the 10 to 19 age cohort have tested positive (15,412 throughout BC).

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.

COVID, age, Vancouver Island
Distribution of COVID-19 cases by age in Island Health [BC CDC May 31, 2021]

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).

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