Summer of 'hope and healing' on the agenda so long as COVID-19 jabs keep rolling out | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Summer of 'hope and healing' on the agenda so long as COVID-19 jabs keep rolling out

Dr. Bonnie Henry June 22, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/BC Government
June 22, 2021 - 3:47 PM

Case counts are continuing to fall while vaccination numbers rise, setting the stage for a brighter summer across the province.

"As we move through step two of the B.C. restart plan, we are progressing well. We continue to see a sustained drop in hospitalizations, in new cases, in clusters and communities across the province. And now, over a million people are fully immunized," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, June 22.

"This gives us a strong foundation for our summer — a summer of hope and a summer of healing, where COVID-19 will be in the background instead of front and centre in our lives."

Today there were 56 new cases across B.C., bringing the total number of people who have had COVID-19  to 147,187. Of these new cases, 12 are in the Vancouver Coastal health authority,18 are in the Fraser Health authority, three are people in Vancouver Island, 15 are in the Interior Health Authority, seven are in Northern Health, and one is a person who generally resides outside of Canada. There are 1,150 active cases,111 people are in hospital and 41 in critical care or ICU.

Additionally, progress and dose one immunizations is steady and those who have had two doses are rapidly increasing.

As of today, 77.7% of all adults have been immunized against COVID-19 and 76.2% of everyone 12 and older have now received their first vaccine dose.

The province has doled out delivered 4,511,923 doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines in British Columbia, and of those 1,101,192 are second doses.

"So we now have (more than) one million people in B.C. who are fully vaccinated and protected against COVID-19," Dr. Henry said. "We have seen some fluctuations, as you know, in supply over the last number of months, which means that some days, our mass clinics will have more of one of the mRNA vaccines than the other. Currently, it is Moderna that we have quite a lot of right now and we'll have in the next few weeks, and we've received word that there may be some decrease in the Pfizer shipments that we're receiving particularly in the coming weeks."

She said they will do the most to have both products available but sometimes that won't be possible. That said, she offered assurances that it is safe and effective to have either one of these products.

"Here in B.C., they are both highly effective and very safe. Really, these are the same vaccines, it's the same piece of RNA, the messenger RNA that stimulates your immune system. It's just in a slightly different package, and we are confident in the safety and the efficacy of them being used interchangeably."

AstraZeneca is still coming in for those who want to move forward with it.

Regardless of what jab you're getting and what combination is made available, Dr. Henry said that vaccination is the key. So much so, that the push to get people vaccinated dominated much of the conversation. The aim is to have 80% of the province vaccinated by mid-July and then moving onto full vaccination from there.

Vaccination is clearly the way out of the pandemic from the point of view of health officials but that doesn't mean it's going to shrink into obscurity right away.

"The virus is still with us, and we have seen it in other communities around the world — in the UK and Israel, in our neighbouring territory in the Yukon — where it can still cause disease and illness and spread, and some people can get seriously ill," she said. "Vaccines are our best protection, and there's still potential for this virus to affect our communities. So to make this a summer we can all enjoy, I encourage everybody, make sure your children are immunized before the summer holidays get underway, encourage and keep your family members near and far to do the same."

While Dr. Henry is calling for children to get vaccinated, the World Health Organization states on its website COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people 18 years and older, and children should not be vaccinated for the moment.

"What I can tell you is we know that there have been studies done looking at safety and efficacy in children down to age 12 and there are additional studies being done, for children down to six months of age," she said. "Health Canada has approved these vaccines as safe and effective in (ages 12 and up), and they are an important age group for us in terms of protecting our communities. That's the decisions we made in Canada and in many other countries and I think we only need to look at what's happening in the UK and in some other countries where they have not prioritized immunizing especially teenagers when we know that transmission can happen and that is a group of our population... that is very highly connected, so we can get a lot of transmission very quickly in young people."

That's why immunization is so important to protect communities, she said.

"Because once you get the transmission in young people, you can get spillover into older people or into people who are more likely to have severe illness and end up in hospital," she said.

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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