B.C.'s health minister concerned about lagging vaccination rates in Central Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C.'s health minister concerned about lagging vaccination rates in Central Okanagan

FILE PHOTO - B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix speaks to reporters during a COVID-19 update, May 10, 2021, as provincial health minister Dr. Bonnie Henry looks on.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
May 27, 2021 - 3:48 PM

The Central Okanagan, especially Lake Country and Rutland, is lagging behind the rest of the province when it comes to COVID vaccinations.

This comes despite the fact that both have been identified by health authorities as areas of concern for the past couple of weeks.

“The lowest (rate) is Rutland, which I think is 50.8 per cent, that’s 12 (years old) and above,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said at a news briefing today, May 27. “That’s 62 per cent province-wide. Most of the Kelowna area is in the 55, 56, 57 per cent range so just below the provincial average.

“We’ve got to make a major effort but it’s not significantly different than other places. I know Interior Health and a lot of leaders in Kelowna are going to be making some efforts there. We want to do better in the Central Okanagan.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry suggested the low vaccination rate in the Central Okanagan may be due to a higher percentage of younger people who were not eligible for vaccinations until recently. Others, she said, may find it challenging to register and get out to a clinic.

“We’re looking at our ground game,” Dr. Henry said. “How do we get that vaccine to different people? How do we get vaccine to people who may not be bothered going into town to go to a clinic?”

Neither commented when asked if part of the reason for the low numbers is the fact that Kelowna has been a hot-bed of anti-mask and anti-vaccine protests.

“Interior Health is going to be making some efforts to increase the level of vaccinations in community health service areas, such as Rutland and Lake Country,” Dix said. “I want to encourage everybody who lives in Interior Health, but particularly in the Kelowna area, this is the time to register and book.”

A pop-up clinic was held in Rutland yesterday and more efforts are expected to encourage more Rutland residents to vaccinate. No such efforts have been announced yet for Lake Country.

The number of COVID-19 cases climbed in the Central Okanagan last week while going down in most of the Interior Health region.

READ MORE: COVID cases up in Interior Health, falling in rest of B.C.

Register for vaccinations at the Get Vaccinated website here or by calling 1-833-838-2323.

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