At least another 6 weeks of COVID restrictions in B.C.: health officials | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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At least another 6 weeks of COVID restrictions in B.C.: health officials

August 31, 2021 - 12:39 PM

B.C. health officials will focus on keeping COVID-19 case numbers down for the next month-and-a-half on two fronts.

They will be to continue the indoor mask mandate to decrease the chance of COVID being transmitted and continue to push to increase vaccination rates.

In a COVID-19 update today, Aug. 31, health officials said that the number of cases will likely continue to increase over the next few weeks, but slight increases in vaccination rates can have a huge impact in reducing the number of cases.

READ MORE: Masks required for all indoor public spaces in B.C. starting tomorrow

The data showed that areas, like the Interior Health region, with lower vaccination rates, had higher infection rates.

About half the new cases in the last month were in the Interior Health region, which makes up about 15 per cent of the province’s population.

During that time, vaccination rates in the Interior have gone up and case counts, especially in the Central Okanagan, have levelled out.

Still, there are other Interior Health communities that are COVID hot spots. Most are in the Kootenays but Vernon is included on that list.

Some of that may be due to lower vaccination rates in some communities but case counts are also affected by the fact a lot of people have been displaced because of wildfires and getting vaccinated under those conditions has been challenging.

Vaccination rates have increased faster with younger people. By the end of this week, those aged 18 to 24 will have the highest vaccination rate of any cohort under the age of 55.

For those under the age of 12, who cannot yet be vaccinated, the case counts have gone up but at a slower rate than older residents.

READ MORE: All staff in B.C. long term care homes must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 12

In July and August, 14 children under the age of 18 were hospitalized and three were put into intensive care.

Of those adults hospitalized, 81 per cent were not vaccinated. The majority of deaths have been in older people, particularly those over the age of 90 who, even though immunized, have not been able to fight off COVID as well as younger people.

The data shows that unvaccinated people are 12 times more likely to get COVID, 34 times more likely to be hospitalized and eight time more likely to die than those who are vaccinated.

While vaccines have prevented thousands of people from being infected with COVID-19, there are still hundreds of thousands of B.C. residents who are unvaccinated, including about 600,000 under the age of 12.

Because of that, COVID will continue to spread in B.C. as health authorities try to balance the need to reduce cases by minimizing social interactions at the same time as trying to keep the province as open as possible.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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