Home Health COVID-19 Island Health COVID summary at Dec 3, vaccinations start for ages 5-11

Island Health COVID summary at Dec 3, vaccinations start for ages 5-11

"We are being tested repeatedly by the pandemic and by nature." ~ Dr Bonnie Henry

Friday December 3, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC

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

Active daily COVID-19 case counts steadily increased this week in Island Health this week, November 29 to December 3 (the week started at 539 active cases, up steadily to 646 by Friday). Last week (November 22 to 26) the active cases tally was fairly consistent throughout the week.

The number of new cases today (December 3) was the fourth-highest ever on one day in Island Health. The highest case count was 113 cases (on October 27 this year), followed by 101 (on October 29), and 97 (on both September 9 and 10). Today’s count was matched closely back on September 15 at 95 cases, and also yesterday with 92 cases.

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COVID case statistics for Vancouver Island at December 3, 2021. [BC CDC]

Given a 14-day incubation period for the airborne viral infection, contributing factors to the increase could include people having attended Remembrance Day celebrations in person on November 11, as well as generally more exposure within indoor spaces (both in schools in the pre-vaccination period for ages 5 to 11 years, as well as for shopping and business engagements, as well as just general living).

The total number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has gone down this week (from 54 on Monday and Tuesday, to 49, 45, and 44 for Wednesday through Friday), compared to being steadily around 51 throughout the week last week. For patients in ICU, the week started at 17 (up from the Friday before), and declined a bit to 14 by today. Some of that decline may have been associated with the five deaths in Island Health this week.

Total cases in Island Health, pandemic to date, sits at 12,971 (up 554 in the past week from 12,417 last Friday).

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Daily test-positive cases of COVID-19 in Island Health at Dec 3, 2021, pandemic to date. [BC CDC]

This week there were 54 new cases in children up to age nine (last week the increase was 21 cases), and 67 cases in youth ages 10-19 (last week the increase was 39 cases).

Vaccine profile (Island Health):

So far, 1,453,438 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Island Health; that’s up by 23,726 in the past seven days.

The types of COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada are Pfizer-BioNTech (mRNA 30 mcg), Moderna (mRNA 30 mcg), AstraZeneca (two-dose viral vector), Pediatric Pfizer (for use in children ages 5 to 11 years; 10 mcg), and Janssen (one-dose viral vector, being used selectively for people who for whatever reason decline the mRNA vaccine).

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The Pfizer COVID vaccine for children age 5 to 11 years of age contains one-third as much antigen compared to the adult dosage. Appointments were happening as of November 29, 2021.

In Island Health the proportion of vaccines administered continues to be strongly Pfizer and then Moderna followed by. The percentages of total administered doses, as of December 3, are: Pfizer (65.4%), Moderna (32.1%), AstraZeneca (2.2%), and Pediatric Pfizer (0.32%). So far no numbers are being provided for administration of Janssen (which was being held for use among health-care workers and in some remote communities).

Vaccine profile (all BC):

Up until last week, all the test-positive COVID-19 cases in BC revealed (by whole genome sequencing) the Delta variant as the cause of infection, according to BC Centre for Disease Control data. It is a highly transmissible variant of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus.

As of December 3, now 81.8% of the BC population age 5+ is fully vaccinated (though children age 5 to 11 years cannot yet have received a second dose). Fully-vaccinated (two doses) are 88% of the population age 12+. Now 10% of the age 12+ population has received a booster shot (third dose).

Health Minister Adrian Dix said on November 30 that about 426 health-care workers and other BC public service employees who hadn’t yet been vaccinated in BC are now on unpaid leave for three months, after which time they can be terminated.

Dix said that about 0.72 percent of the public service had received medical exemptions from vaccination, on a case-by-case basis.

Omicron variant:

There was one (the first case) of the Omicron variant declared this week in BC (detected in a person resident in Fraser Health after having travelled to the south Africa region).

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Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry during her November 30, 2021 media session.

The Omicron variant (reported last week as having become the dominant variant in South Africa) has resulted in border closures in Canada (and many other countries) to travellers arriving back from several south African countries, including Canadian citizens.

By now, pretty much everyone knows the drill as to public health measures to help combat COVID viral spread. That includes frequent hand-washing, keeping groups small, gather outdoors instead of indoors, and have contact in gatherings only with fully-vaccinated people (particularly if gathering indoors), and wearing masks in all indoor spaces (that’s by public health order, for everyone age 5+).

This week Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry emphasized (reminded) to be additionally cautious about the size of gatherings if there are seniors or people who are immuno-compromised in your group.

Vaccination for young children:

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The Pfizer COVID vaccine for children age 5 to 11 years of age contains one-third as much antigen compared to the adult dosage, said Dr Henry on Oct 1, 2021.

COVID vaccination registration opened about two weeks ago for children ages 5 to 11 years. This week administration began on Monday, to a total of 466 cases in Island Health by today.

The pediatric dosage of the vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech is a 10 mcg composition (compared to 30 mcg for adults). Public health is hoping to achieve first-dose immunization of as many of the 350,000 children in that age cohort by January 31, 2022.

Up to this week, children under the age of 12 have been the largest population segment that is unvaccinated against COVID-19.

This week (November 30 media session with Dr Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix) BC Health said that specialized family-friendly clinics were going well so far. Dr Henry attended one of the clinics for photo-ops with children getting their shots.

All siblings may come to the same appointment time, with a parent or guardian.


Boosters for seniors in the community age 70+ are rolling out by invitation, based on waiting for a six-month interval after the person’s second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. All boosters will be the mRNA type vaccine.

elder, senior, vaccine
People age 70+ may get a third dose of COVID vaccine (i.e. booster) in BC, after a 6-month interval since their second dose.

Elderly persons in long-term care have already been receiving boosters, as well as health-care workers in long-term care and assisted living.

In other provinces, including Ontario, the booster (third-dose) age was dropped to age 50 years. This is to help get ahead of an expected increase in cases as winter weather sees most people indoors for much of the time.

The interval between between second and third (booster) doses will be six month for most people, said Dr Henry this week, but adds: “I don’t think it will change but everything is new.”

As of December 3, now 10% of the age 12+ population has received a booster shot (third dose).

Worship services:

This week Dr Henry issued a public health order about people attending worship services, including choirs, that all present must wear a face covering during activities.

The size of in-person worship gatherings must be limited to 50 percent of room capacity if anyone is not fully vaccinated, otherwise it can be 100 percent.

A long pandemic:

Dr Henry’s comments on November 30 included “we’re not out of the woods yet with this pandemic”, which comes as a stark reminder of how long this pandemic has been going on.

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“We are being tested repeatedly by the pandemic and by nature,” she said, referring to the series of extreme-weather events in the last half of this year (including wildfires, the heat dome at the end of June and the flooding in the BC Fraser Valley area).

She noted that acute care outbreaks can spread quite rapidly.

First-cases of COVID were detected in Canada in January 2020. with the first case in BC announced on January 28, 2020 (first case of transmission reported March 5, 2020); the pandemic was officially declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020.

In BC the COVID public health emergency was declared almost 20 months ago by Dr Henry on March 17, followed by a State of Emergency declared on March 18, 2020 as issued by Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

Media sessions about COVID were nearly daily for a long while, with various attempts to hold them weekly (which holds for a few weeks perhaps, then stuff happens and more announcements come).

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