Early 2nd doses of COVID vaccine now being offered outside Central Okanagan hotspot | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Early 2nd doses of COVID vaccine now being offered outside Central Okanagan hotspot

FILE PHOTO - Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are seen in this file photo.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
August 09, 2021 - 2:22 PM

About 170,000 B.C. residents will soon be getting notified that they are now eligible for a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine after 28 days rather than the 49 days they now have to wait.

While it’s better to wait for six to eight weeks for that second dose in order to get stronger immunity, the spread of COVID in places like the Central Okanagan has triggered the need to get as many second doses into arms in areas where there are high case counts as soon as possible, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a news conference today, Aug. 9.

“Right now, we need to balance the risk of the epidemiology that we’re seeing and the need to get people as highly protected as possible, knowing we have a lot of transmission from the highly transmissible strains here in the province, both Gamma and Delta,” Dr. Henry said.

Central Okanagan residents have been able to get their second dose after 28 days since an outbreak was declared there on July 28. Stricter measures were put in place on social gatherings and activities in the Central Okanagan last week.

READ MORE: Bars and nightclubs hardest hit by new COVID restrictions in the Central Okanagan

Residents in that region will also be getting notifications that they are eligible in part, because this is being done on a provincewide basis but also to serve as a reminder that they are eligible, Dr. Henry said.

Since waiting longer can give stronger, longer-lasting immunity, those who are not in vulnerable workplaces may want to hold off on that second dose. Those working in restaurants and the hospitality industries are encouraged to get the second dose sooner.

Dr. Henry doesn’t expect that a third booster shot will be needed for those who get their second doses sooner.

More than 82 per cent of B.C. residents have had one dose and 70.3 per cent have had second doses, Health Minister Adrian Dix said durning the same news conference today.

Everyone can walk into any clinic at any time to get a first dose, he said.

The case counts in the Central Okanagan seem to be levelling off but current cases are coming from activities that happened 10 days to two weeks ago, Dr. Henry said. That means it will likely take another week to see any decline in case counts from the new measures.

Younger people, those aged 18 to 24, have stepped up so that 79.6 per cent are vaccinated, which is higher than those between the ages of 25 and 50 in the Interior and Northern Health regions, Dix said.

In the Metro Vancouver area, more than 80 per cent of those aged 25 to 50 are vaccinated, which is significantly higher than in the Interior, he said.

Efforts to get these people vaccinated have included vaccination clinics being taken into workplaces and some employers are offering incentives for workers to get vaccinated, Dr. Henry said.

Health officials have also learned that, for younger people who have busy lives, there needs to be easier access to the vaccine and there needs to be more education on the benefits of the vaccines versus potential side effects, she said.

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