Saturday August 21, 2021 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC [Updated 11:55 pm]
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends
The Delta variant of the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) virus is surging within the province’s case profile. And this with back-to-school and return-to-campus right around the corner on September 7.
Overall COVID case numbers in BC have been on the rise since the last week of July, now standing at 158,919 pandemic-to-date. The pandemic officially started in BC on March 17, 2020 and is now in a fourth wave.
Step 3 continues:
Based on this direction of things, yesterday Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry in a 2:30 pm announcement shared with Health Minister Adrian Dix said that the proposed date of September 7 to ease restrictions (Step 4) won’t be happening.
The business sector had been hoping (tourism in particular, which relies on a lot of people-mixing) that a nearly full reopening (Step 4) would be possible. As well, it would have made return-to-campus easier for universities and colleges.
BC Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside has announced that she will be making an announcement next week about COVID guidelines for back-to-school. Dr Henry said yesterday that a wide range of stakeholders have been working on the plan all summer (including teachers and school districts).
Where the cases are:
At present there are 391 active cases of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island (total 5,853 pandemic to date), with 54 new just yesterday (August 20). Currently eight people are in hospital due to COVID (five of those in ICU); a total of 268 people have been hospitalized with COVID infection during the pandemic to date. To date, 42 people have died in Island Health due to COVID.
Across BC there are 6,345 active cases, with 129 people in hospital (59 in ICU). There were 663 new COVID cases added to the total yesterday. There have been 1,785 deaths pandemic-to-date in BC (42 on Vancouver Island).
The greatest surge is happening in the BC Interior region due to transmission among younger adults who’ve not been fully vaccinated and the dislocation of communities during the multi-week wildfire emergency. They presently have 3,504 active cases (274 new on August 20); 49 people are in hospital in Interior Health (23 in ICU).
The age-based immunization program in BC (starting with the eldest and descending from there) left young adults to last. Even teens got in the door of immunization clinics before people age 19 to 30, even though young adults would naturally have the most active social contact. The Interior Health region is popular for summer vacations. Most of the BC wildfires are in the Interior region (causing community dislocation and greater risk of exposure to viral transmission between people).
Vaccination is the ticket out:
Anyone in need of first and second doses after the large clinics close will be able to receive their vaccine at mass clinics that remain open (they are starting to close on Vancouver Island — see list) and other, smaller and mobile locations.
“There is absolutely no doubt that vaccination is protecting people from serious illness,” says Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr Richard Stanwick.
Across BC, 74.3% of people age 12+ have been fully vaccinated (two doses). On Vancouver Island now 74% are double-vaxxed.
The interval between first and second doses must be at least 28 days in BC. Although throughout this year Dr Henry has said that a longer is produces better protection, the fourth wave is something of an emergency.
“While we’re seeing excellent progress with vaccination rates, there is still work to be done,” says Dr Stanwick. “Please, if you haven’t received your first dose, or if you have been delaying your second dose, now is the time to get it done and ensure we go into the fall with the best possible protection against COVID-19.”
Other, people need to continue following the proven health protocols: physical distancing, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, washing hands frequently, and staying home if not feeling well.
Masks in indoor public spaces:
Masks are recommended in indoor public places for all people 12 and older who are not yet fully vaccinated.
The BC Government has published this guidance:
- You’re fully vaccinated 14 days after dose 2
- Masks are optional for children aged 2 to 12
- Children under age 2 should not wear masks
- Proof of vaccination does not need to be requested by service providers
- Some people may choose to continue to wear a mask after they’re fully vaccinated and that’s okay
Both indoors and outdoors there is still the need to apply common sense with regard to the wearing of masks and other COVID protocols. There’s science and then there’s the risk of reality, and optics.
There was some controversy this weekend over Dr Henry not having worn a mask during the BC Lions game in Vancouver (she says she wore a mask entering and leaving the BC Place stadium venue).
Getting your 1st or 2nd dose:
All clinic locations in Island Health will continue to accept walk-ins for first and second doses. Take along your Personal Health Number (PHN).
Appointments are also available for those who prefer that option. If you would like to make an appointment please visit www.getvaccinvated.gov.bc.ca or call 1-833-838-2323.
GETTING VACCINATED IN ISLAND HEALTH
- Walk-in to any mass immunization clinic and get your first or second dose without an appointment. Find a list of clinic locations here.
- Whole community clinics will take place in August in rural and remote communities. Watch for local advertising or check the Whole Community section of Island Health’s website to find out when your local clinic will be held.
- Watch for the Island Health mobile Vax Van at a park or community location near you and get your first dose there. Find information about upcoming locations online at http://www.islandhealth.ca/learn-about-health/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine.