COVID-19 vaccine roll out at care homes in Interior Health aimed at curbing deadly outbreaks | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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COVID-19 vaccine roll out at care homes in Interior Health aimed at curbing deadly outbreaks

Interior Health's Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Albert de Villiers
Image Credit: Submitted/Interior Health
January 20, 2021 - 2:30 PM

All residents and staff at long-term care homes in the Interior Health region will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of next week.

That may cut down on the number of outbreaks in those facilities but the virus is spreading like a wildfire from the Central Okanagan to the north and northwest, Dr. Albert de Villiers, the Interior Health region’s chief medical health officer, said today, Jan. 19, during a news conference.

“Maybe you can compare it to a wildfire where lots of the bush has already burned in the Central Okanagan, unfortunately, but in some of the other areas we haven’t seen a lot of fire yet so there’s a lot of kindling still out there. There are still a lot of people who haven’t been exposed," Dr. de Villiers said.

READ MORE: Long-term care home outbreaks in Kelowna, Penticton declared over

The COVID-19 vaccines have been taken into about 150 long-term and assisted living homes within the Interior Health region so far, but not all the staff may have been working at the times the vaccine was offered and some staff choose not to be vaccinated, he said.

It takes 10 days or more for the vaccine to take effect.

If anyone in those homes are sick with COVID-19 or have tested positive, they won’t be vaccinated, Dr. de Villiers said. Since it’s not known how long immunity from the disease lasts after being infected, the plan is to offer the vaccination three months later.

While outbreaks have been declared over today in two long-term care homes in the region, there are still seven care homes with outbreaks along with Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake where 11 staff members, but no patients, have tested positive.

READ MORE: COVID-19 cluster at Big White grows to 203

There are 16 residents and five staff members infected at Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre in Kamloops where two people have died.

The outbreak at Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver has infected 26 residents, nine staff and left two people dead.

At Creekside Landing in Vernon, there have been 20 residents and 12 staff infected and one death. Nordic House, also in Vernon, has 32 residents and 19 staff infected. There have been four deaths. Heritage Square in Vernon has 47 residents and 18 staff infected. There have been seven deaths.

The Heritage Retirement Residence in West Kelowna has seen 41 residents infected along with five staff. There have been three deaths.

Along with increasing numbers of cases in the north and northwest of the region, more positive cases are being found amongst workers at Big White Ski Resort.

That’s largely due to the fact that young workers are often living more than one person to a room or a house so it’s difficult for them to keep safely distant from others, Dr. de Villiers said.

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