No plans to ease COVID restrictions in B.C. more quickly despite passing 70% 1st dose mark | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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No plans to ease COVID restrictions in B.C. more quickly despite passing 70% 1st dose mark

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Interior Health
June 03, 2021 - 4:15 PM

More than 70 per cent of adult British Columbians have now received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination, but there's nothing magic about that number, according to the provincial health officer.

It’s going to take more than that for B.C.’s Restart Plan to move forward any faster than already planned.

“It’s not only how protected we are – how much immunization that we have,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a news conference today, June 3. “It’s looking at the transmission, where we’re seeing outbreaks, where there’s risky spots, where there’s people that aren’t as protected and, of course, it’s the amount of vaccines we have coming for second doses.

“All of that information that we presented a few weeks ago about breakthrough cases, about vaccine effectiveness and the bump up in effectiveness both for me as an individual but also in terms of reducing transmission from having dose two. Those are all important factors that we are looking at as well.”

Henry said 71.8 per cent of the province's eligible adult population has received a first dose of vaccine.

READ MORE: Everyone in B.C. can have 2nd COVID-19 jab by end of summer

Step 2 of the restart plan is scheduled to kick in on June 15 if there is a minimum of 65 per cent of B.C. residents vaccinated with at least one dose, along with cases and hospitalizations continuing to decline. That would allow for up to 50 people at indoor and outdoor social gatherings, removal of travel restrictions and a restart for indoor sports.

Step 3 is scheduled to start on July 1, at the earliest, if 70 per cent of the population has one dose.

That would mean a return to normal for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings, increased capacity for organized events with nightclubs and casinos re-opening.

“We are absolutely on the right track, but we’re not going to move up the steps just on that one parameter (vaccinations) alone,” Dr. Henry said.

Scientific evidence shows there’s a huge bump in protection against “explosive transmission” of COVID once a population is 70 to 75 per cent vaccinated but that protection increases dramatically if 90 per cent of the population is vaccinated and everyone gets second doses, she said.

That’s why the push is on to get second doses into each B.C. resident by the fall, when Dr. Henry is concerned that COVID variants may prove to be more resistant to vaccines.

So far, that’s not been the case. Variants of concern have been easier to transmit but do not seem to be resistant to vaccines. All other protective measures, like safe distancing, hand washing and mask wearing, are effective defences.

“We want to get everybody immunized because that’s our best wall of defence around the province,” she said. “We’d like to get it to 100 per of children and adults 12 and up. We know that’s not necessarily possible, but the higher the better.”

There are three main reasons people don’t get vaccinated, she said. None of those she mentioned had to do with outright opposition to vaccines.

She referred to the three C’s: complacency, confidence and convenience.

Some people are complacent and don’t feel they need to bother. Others need more education so they’re confident in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. Others just don’t know if they can get off work or arranged day care in order to get to clinics.

Those are being tackled through education but also through things like a successful pop-up clinic held at an Interior farmer’s market on Saturday, she said.

More such events are planned.

Register for vaccinations at the Get Vaccinated website here or by calling 1-833-838-2323.


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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