As seasons change, B.C. health officials expecting hundreds more flu, COVID hospitalizations | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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As seasons change, B.C. health officials expecting hundreds more flu, COVID hospitalizations

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B.C. is rolling out flu vaccines this October in hopes of keeping the province's hospitals from getting overstuffed with respiratory illnesses this fall and winter.

Provincial health officials today said they expect and are planning for more than 1,500 hospitalizations from influenza and COVID, up from 350 people currently in B.C. hospitals who have tested positive for COVID, even though they may not all be there because of COVID.

That’s why the province is making flu vaccines available in October, some of which can be taken in conjunction with COVID booster shots, according to technical briefing documents issued by the provincial government today, Sept. 28.

The flu vaccines are free to anyone over six months of age and will be available at community COVID booster clinics or through pharmacists, physicians or nurse practitioners.

READ MORE: Kelowna man unapologetic about trying to sell ivermectin door to door

The province is gearing up to add 1,500 hospital beds from late fall through to the spring. There are now 9,400 beds in the system.

Preparations are being made to ensure all these expected patients don't cripple hospitals.

“Of the currently admitted patients in hospital, approximately 1,300 could be cared for in the community and 500 are awaiting care home placement,” the briefing documents say. “Patients are being identified for potential transfer to community; reducing hospitalization by 40% to 60% in case 500 to 800 beds are needed.”

Air ambulance teams will also be enhanced if needed to expedite transfers.

On the COVID front, the documents show that 97% of B.C. residents have some immunity from the disease either through vaccination or infection.

The vast majority (86%) of B.C. residents over the age of five have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines and 57% have three doses.

The province is testing wastewater for signs of pathogens in more than a dozen cities, including Kamloops and Kelowna.

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