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Vancouver Island COVID profile on Thanksgiving weekend 2021

COVID cases on Vancouver Island up by 586 in just seven days (Oct 1 to 8).

Monday October 11, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 3:21 pm & 5 pm]

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

This article provides COVID case information as at Friday October 8 (stats prior to BC heading into the Thanksgiving long weekend of October 9 to 11) and ahead of the next COVID-update with Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix (coming up at 12 noon tomorrow, October 12).

This is the second Thanksgiving during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 there was a significant spike in test-positive cases in BC after people gathered for Thanksgiving; there were no vaccines available at that time.

COVID, Island Health, hospital
COVID hospitalizations continue in Island Health: 39 in hospital (25 in ICU) at Oct 8, 2021. [BC CDC]

This year people were encouraged to keep gatherings of family and friends small, and to perhaps venture into those difficult questions about who is fully vaccinated and whether traditional family gatherings might be adapted once again this year (e.g. smaller gatherings, dinner outdoors, wearing masks, etc).

This year there’s been little to no talk about sharing Thanksgiving over Zoom and FaceTime. People have quickly learned that cyberspace just doesn’t cut it for meaningful gatherings.

COVID-19 is in its fourth wave across BC, including on Vancouver Island. In some ways people are getting used to but in most ways everyone is tired of it if not fully burned out (such as health-care workers).

covid, island health, ages
COVID cases in Island Health, by age, from January 2020 to October 8, 2021 [BC CDC]

COVID on Vancouver Island at October 8, 2021:

Island Health has reached 9,264 cases (pandemic to date). That’s up by 586 cases in just seven days (October 1 to 8).

Now 8,432 people have recovered from test-positive cases in Island Health which is 91%. There have been 72 deaths in Island Health, pandemic to date (of which two have occurred in the past seven days).

Presently there are 717 active cases on Vancouver Island. Of those people, 39 are in hospital (with 25 of those receiving care in ICU). Hospitalizations pandemic to date tally to 435 (up by 32 in the past seven days).

In the last seven days (October 1 to 8) 74 children up to age 10 were newly reported COVID cases in Island Health, and 55 youth age 10 to 19 tested positive.

Young adults also continued to show more cases in the past week: 103 people in their 20s, and 113 people in their 30s.

Vaccine profile, pandemic to date:

vaccine profile, island health
Vaccines administered in Island Health to Oct 8, 2021 [BC CDC]

As of October 8, there have been 1,319,053 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in Island Health (since the start of the pandemic), of which 636,565 or 48.2% have been second doses (i.e. those people are now considered fully vaccinated); that percentage of first and second doses has remained consistent over the past week as 6,913 more doses were administered in the last seven days.

With a population of 846,278 on Vancouver Island (as at 2020), the 636,565 people who have received two doses (i.e. considered to be fully vaccinated) shows 75.2% of the island population has been fully vaccinated.

Dr Bonnie Henry, October 5 2021
Dr Bonnie Henry says 300,000 unused doses of Moderna are being returned due to over-supply under current conditions.

The most frequently used vaccine product in BC has been Pfizer-BioNTech, followed by Moderna, then AstraZeneca. In Island Health, doses administered up to October, by type, are Pfizer-BioNTech (69.9%, which is down from 70.1% seven days ago), Moderna (27.5%, which is up from 27.3% seven days ago), and AstraZeneca (2.6%, which is the same as seven days ago).

Last week Dr Henry told media that 300,000 doses of Moderna vaccine would be returned to the federal government (for use in COVAX around the world), as the demand for vaccines in BC has relaxed. Moderna doses are ready-to-use and do not require dilution the way that the Pfizer shot does.

Delta variant & more recent deaths:

The highly transmissible Delta variant is found as having caused virtually all the COVID-19 test-positive infections in BC since the third week of July (according to BC Centre for Disease Control data | Variants of Concern report at Oct 1, 2021).

Since late summer, this fourth wave of the COVID pandemic has been ‘redubbed’ as a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’.

Pandemic to date, there have been 72 deaths directly due to COVID in Island Health (up from a total of 48 just since September 1); in other words, now one-third of the total COVID deaths on Vancouver Island have happened within just the past five weeks.

COVID, vancouver island
COVID profile for Vancouver Island (Island Health) as at Oct 8, 2021 [BC CDC]

Wearing masks:

As of October 4, masks must be worn by everyone in K-12 schools in BC (students, teachers, staff and visitors), as announced on October 1 by Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry. That includes on school buses.

And this past week it was also announced that everyone age 5+ must wear masks in public spaces. Directives on the recommended and mandated use of masks have varied (in many ways flip-flopped) in BC during the course of the pandemic.

COVID in children & schools:

health care, sanitizer, family
As of October 4, 2021 in BC, masks must be worn by everyone in the school setting.

Children under age 12 remain unvaccinated in BC (and across Canada), as an approved vaccine for children is awaited. Pfizer has developed a product that will contain 10 mcg of the antigen against COVID-19 (compared to 30 mcg in the adult dose). Health Canada has received the manufacturer’s data (part of the review and approval process).

The number of COVID school exposures were robust in September as Dr Henry authorized the return to school without use of masks for K-3 and overall relaxed public health protocols despite the highly transmissible Delta variant causing almost entirely 100% of cases in BC (per BC CDC’s own data).

Parents have had to push for the release of COVID exposure notification information to be reinstated; Dr Henry relented but insisted the health authority websites be the only “authoritative” source (see Island Health school exposures page). Letters from school principals and/or school districts are not part of the mix this year; only parents/caregivers of impacted children are notified (after contact tracing is done), but this falls short of the proper amount of information that parents could responsibly use if they had access to it in a timely manner.

Vaccine mandate for school staff:

school districts
Four school districts on south Vancouver Island: SD61 (Greater Victoria), SD62 (Sooke), SD63 (Saanich), SD79 (Cowichan Valley). [BC Ministry of Education]

Due to the employer-employee relationship of school boards to their teachers and other staff, the Province of BC has had to leave it to the 60 school boards in BC to make their own decisions about mandating COVID-19 vaccination for teachers, CUPE staff and other employees in the schools. While most mainstream media painted this as chaotic and unbalanced — and it may well be, the BC government has convened an advisory committee of public health officials with representatives of the various BC Education system partners.

The four school boards on south Vancouver Island have all indicated that they will follow the advice of the advisory committee, in various combinations of consultation with the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF), BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCSPEA) and local medical health officers of Island Health. See the vaccine mandate board intention statements of SD61, SD62, SD63 and SD79 as assembled by Island Social Trends.

Cases among health-care workers:

There has been no BC CDC report on COVID cases among health care workers since June 18 of this year. Last week Island Social Trends asked BC Health as to when the next report might be released, given how important health-care workers are to the successful outcome of this pandemic.

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