COVID outbreaks in Interior Health care homes continue despite high vaccination rates | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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COVID outbreaks in Interior Health care homes continue despite high vaccination rates

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
April 30, 2021 - 2:39 PM

Despite a high rate of vaccination — 90 percent — 24 people living in the Sandalwood Retirement Resort in Kelowna have tested positive for COVID-19.

An outbreak was declared at the independent living facility on April 23 and the number of positive cases has since grown to 26, with 24 of them residents. One person has died.

“They’ve got a really high vaccination rate... The staff vaccination rate is very high as well,” Interior Health’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Albert de Villiers, said during a news conference today, April 30. “As we know the vaccine, number one, isn’t 100 per cent effective so you will always get some disease.”

READ MORE: Kelowna retirement home COVID-19 outbreak doubles in size

Dr. de Villiers said the resident population was between 170 to 180 people so estimated about 12 per cent were infected but he didn’t say what portion of them had been vaccinated.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which were given to retirement homes, are generally believed to be about 95 per cent effective.

Not all residents, or staff, choose to get vaccinated, Dr. de Villiers said. He did not have a breakdown of vaccination rates among different groups or different care facilities but said some rates will likely be posted by the province next week.

The good news is that most of those infected at Sandalwood did not have symptoms or had very mild symptoms. Once a single person living or working in a care facility tests positive for COVID, everyone there is given a test.

When asked if there was a message to be drawn for the broader community about the chances of getting COVID even when most of the general population is vaccinated, Dr. de Villiers said any such outbreaks will likely be minor in nature.

That’s because, even if people do get sick, having been vaccinated means they won’t get as sick so the health care system isn’t stressed out.

“Next year at this time, if we’ve all got our vaccines in us and we get a few low grade fevers or a few people coughing or runny noses or feeling a little bit off for the day, it’s not going to be as bad as it is now,” Dr. de Villiers said.

He gave the example of the McKinney Place in Oliver where 78 people, including 54 patients, were infected in January, just as vaccines were being rolled out in care homes. Seventeen people died there, almost overwhelming the health care system, he said.

READ MORE: Deadly outbreak at South Okanagan long-term care home declared over

By comparison, most of the people infected at Sandalwood showed no symptoms.

As well, in a year’s time, if most people are vaccinated, there won’t be as much disease to spread around the community or into care homes.

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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