Only 65% of staff at Kelowna long-term care facility with COVID-19 outbreak took vaccine | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Only 65% of staff at Kelowna long-term care facility with COVID-19 outbreak took vaccine

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
March 08, 2021 - 2:32 PM

A Kelowna long-term care facility grappling with a COVID-19 outbreak had a relatively low buy-in among staff for getting vaccinated, despite ample opportunity to do so.

Two staff members and 10 residents at Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna tested positive for COVID-19, Interior Health said in a press release issued Sunday night. 

Today, March 8, medical officer Dr. Sue Pollock said the immunization rate for residents for the sizeable long-term care facility is greater than 80 per cent.

Among staff, however, it’s much lower.

“Cottonwoods was the first facility in Interior Health that offered the vaccine, dating back to December,” Pollock said.

“Staff have had access since Dec. 22, and there were two onsite clinics as well, in early January and early February, open for residents and staff.”

Despite ample opportunity, the staff immunization rate at Cottonwoods is 65 per cent.

“I would like to see it higher than 65 per cent, there are a number of reasons why it’s there and hopefully we will see the number climb,” said Pollock.

One issue, said Pollock, is that some people have “vaccine hesitancy” and there will be education material made available to address that issue.

That said, the vaccine isn’t ironclad protection against the disease, another fact laid bare by this particular outbreak.

While four of the people who have been infected with COVID-19 were unvaccinated, eight had received their shots.

The issue, in this case, may have been the shots hadn’t had long enough to take effect, Pollock explained.

“We have to look at a couple of other things, like when they were vaccinated,” she said. “It could take several weeks to build up immunization.”

Additionally, the vaccine isn’t “100 per cent effective” even once it has had time to build up.

Dr. Pollock pointed out that even once people get the vaccine, public health measures that have been in place throughout the last year, both in communities and long-term care facilities, need to be adhered to.

“We will need to have a combination of public health measures, and the vaccine,” she said. “In long-term care facilities, people are vulnerable because of their age and living in a congregate living situation.”

That said, south of the border, restrictions are starting to ease as more people get vaccinated.

Today the CDC said, among other things, fully vaccinated Americans may gather indoors in private homes with one another in small groups without masks or distancing. Vaccinated people may gather in a private residence with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for developing severe disease if they contract the coronavirus, also without masks or distancing.

Dr. Pollock stressed that’s not how things are going to roll out here, just yet.

“In Interior Health we take direction from Dr. Bonnie Henry, the public health officer,” she said.

“We need to follow guidance from the province and the federal government.”

Together they are applying best practices based on the best evidence for Phase 2 of the vaccination rollout.

“We want to remind the public to wear masks and wash their hands … and stay within a family bubble,” she said.

When that changes, she said, Dr. Henry will offer insight.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 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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