As vaccine rollout ramps up in B.C. don’t let your COVID-19 guard down just yet | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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As vaccine rollout ramps up in B.C. don’t let your COVID-19 guard down just yet

FILE PHOTO - Kelsey Medhurst was the first COVID-19 vaccine recipient in Kamloops. Despite plans to have almost a quarter of B.C.’s population vaccinated by the end of April, it’s not likely that restrictions against socializing are going to eased much during that time.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Interior Health
March 18, 2021 - 3:22 PM

Despite plans to have almost a quarter of B.C.’s population vaccinated by the end of April, it’s not likely that restrictions against socializing are going to eased much during that time.

“There’s going to be very little change in the next two months,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at a news briefing today, March 18.

By April 18, there should be just over 900,000 doses of vaccines administered but that’s far from reaching the “herd immunity” needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We’ve been rumbling along at a very high level of cases that we’re seeing in our community which tells us the virus is still spreading, which tells us we still have risk,” Dr. Henry said. “At the same time we’ve, thankfully, been able to accelerate our program of protecting those most at risk and snuffing out some of the outbreaks that we’re having and the transmission chains that are happening.”

Dr. Henry has been talking with faith groups about possibly having indoor services later in April. She’s also looking at ways to open up youth sports and hopes, in June, high school graduation ceremonies can be held.

Opening up visitation rights in long-term care homes is also something she’s looking at doing in the short term.

“By June, if we are able to deliver what we’re looking at delivering, and if we’re able to keep a third wave from taking off, then we can look (easing) at some of those restrictions,” Dr. Henry said.

By the fall, larger indoor gatherings may be possible but things like international travel or large conferences that bring people from other countries are not likely to be allowed this year. Nor will large festivals that bring people from many places likely to be allowed.

What she doesn’t want is a repeat of what happened last fall when groups of up to 50 were allowed to gather indoors.

At one point, the risk of even one of those people having and spreading COVID was small and contact tracing was manageable.

But, going into October and November, the risk of one in 10 people at a gathering spreading COVID increased and contact tracers were getting overwhelmed. That’s why she cracked down and banned all indoor gatherings.

The case numbers took off over a weekend so she’s trying to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again.

“As we get more people protected and as we try, hopefully, to get transmission rates down, which means the probability that any one person will have the virus goes down, we’ll be able to have larger groups again,” Dr. Henry said. “But it will be in a slow, phased approach so we’re safe in how we’re doing it.”

She will be looking at how to have small, safe gatherings in the summer.

The hope is that enough vaccines will arrive in B.C. over the next few weeks so that all adults will be offered a vaccine by the end of June.

At this point, Dr. Henry is not too concerned about the variants of concern. Most of those in B.C. are the variant first seen in the United Kingdom.

While it’s more contagious than the regular strain, it does not seem to be causing the current level of about 500 case a day. It's just seems to be replacing the older strain. Vaccines are also effective against it.

“We need to be more meticulous about preventing the transmission because this one makes it easier for someone to spread it to others,” Dr. Henry said. “So, we have to be more cautious longer if our rates stay as high as they are.”


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