More money, more flu shots and hiring of thousands of workers planned to fight COVID-19 this fall | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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More money, more flu shots and hiring of thousands of workers planned to fight COVID-19 this fall

B.C. health minister Adrian Dix speaks to reporters, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
September 09, 2020 - 1:27 PM

The provincial government has budgeted $750 million more dollars to fight COVID-19 as the province heads into the fall influenza season.

That’s in addition to $850 million already budgeted and was announced at a media briefing today, Sept. 9, by Deputy Health Minister Stephen Brown.

The province expects COVID-19 will continue to be predominantly a Lower Mainland phenomena but there will be surges in other parts of the province, he said.

That means, if there is a surge in need for hospital beds, it will done on a regional or even local basis rather than province-wide.

The plan is to have hospitals continue operating and performing elective surgeries much as they are today “knowing that we can successfully implement more extreme measures linked to delayed surgeries or admissions if required,” the document accompanying the briefing states.

That means larger hospitals in the Interior Health region will have 1,114 beds for regular patients and 228 for a surge in COVID-19 cases. Smaller hospitals have another 235 regular beds with 71 set aside for a surge in COVID-19.

Rather than cancel elective surgeries and limiting hospital admissions, the hope is that there is enough capacity to deal with COVID-19 cases.

That will be done, in part, by trying to reduce hospital admissions during the fall and winter flu and cold season.

That includes making almost two million doses of the flu vaccine available to the general public, based on the fact that there was a huge demand for such shots in places like Australia and New Zealand. There was a mild flu season there, in part due to safe distancing but also because there was a high rate of vaccinations.

A key focus is on long term care homes, where up to 7,000 new staff will be hired. Of those, 2,000 will help prevent infections with another 5,000 new health care aides, cleaning and food service staff.

The homes were opened in June to allow one visitor per resident per week so they could be sure that could be done safely given current staffing levels, Health Minister Adrian Dix said in answer to a question.  Knowing that COVID-19 is going to be around for a long time to come, the new hires will also help those facilities "normalize" as much as possible.

There will be 45,000 doses of “Fluzone-High Dose immunizations” to long term and assisted care homes.

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