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Interior Health leading the province with resurgence of COVID-19 cases

FILE PHOTO - British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix responds to questions during a news conference regarding the novel coronavirus COVID-19, in Vancouver, on Saturday, March 14, 2020.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
July 27, 2021 - 5:00 PM

The Interior Health region has yet again shown the greatest increase in COVID-19 case numbers overnight with 95 of 150 cases from across the province being diagnosed here.

In the latest update from the B.C. Ministry of Health, the total number of COVID-19 cases rose to 149,259, with 783 being active. Of the active cases, 412 are within Interior Health. 

This area's current resurgence of COVID-19 cases isn't going unnoticed, with a 26% unvaccinated rate and a higher caseload being spotlighted during a provincial press conference earlier in the day. 

"In the Interior Health Authority, I think it's important, especially when we look at case numbers, to understand that those will change over time," Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, in March and April of 2020, a very significant portion of the cases were in Vancouver Coastal Health initially and then it became Fraser Health and now it's Interior Health in this current period that has the most cases."

Dix pointed out, it's not the first time the pendulum has swung in this direction.

"I think I would say that we saw in July of 2020 some increases of cases in the Kelowna area, and the community stepped up and addressed it at that time," he said.

He said he thinks area residents will put in the effort and see it pay off again and, immunization is going to be key to that shift.

"Part of it is ensuring that, especially in smaller communities where inevitably the vaccine isn't available seven days a week... that we're making efforts to make it more available and we just have to continue to do the work," he said.

That is why there's a push in the next two weeks to get the vaccination rates up. There will be more walk-in vaccination opportunities and more pop ups as that effort gains steam.

"I think our strength is going to be to join together and to work together and to drive those numbers up, day after day for immunization across all communities — to not divide or point to particular communities but to work everywhere," he said.

"That's what Vax for B.C. is all about. I'm very proud, particularly proud of the efforts of Interior Health, for example, the number of individual clinics in small places and bigger places from Scotch Creek to Kelowna, all over Interior Health where first dose and eligible secondary dropping immunization clinics are happening."

Through those, the vaccination rate was raised up from below 50% in a community like Rutland to almost 70%, in a fairly short period of time.

In total, 1,021,323 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered throughout Interior Health to date. This includes over 563,334 first doses and 457,989 second doses.

“Now people can drop-in to any Interior Health immunization clinic for either dose of the COVID-19 vaccine – no appointment required.” Interior Health CEO Susan Brown said in a press release. “Whether you schedule an appointment or simply drop-in to any of our immunization clinics, we are continuing to make the vaccine available across the Interior. As the wildfire season intensifies, get immunized sooner rather than later, and protect yourself and your loved ones from illness.”

People are eligible for their second dose at seven weeks (49 days) from the date they received their first dose.

The Interior’s vaccine rollout is a coordinated effort between Interior Health and the First Nations Health Authority.

People can also get their first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by dropping in to any IH immunization clinic or by making an appointment.

To make an appointment, register online by visiting the provincial website, call 1-833-838-2323, or visit a Service B.C. office and then book an appointment.

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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