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Unvaccinated British Columbians driving rise in new cases

Dr. Bonnie Henry July 27.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/BC Government
July 27, 2021 - 11:14 AM

The number of new COVID-19 cases in B.C. has grown in the last week, largely among those who are not vaccinated.

“The fact is that data shows us that less than 5% of the cases of COVID-19 that we're seeing right now are amongst people who are fully vaccinated,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, July 27.

“96% are people who have received just one dose or 78% are among people who have not been vaccinated at all.”

Dr. Henry said that’s a small proportion of people in this province, and shows that people who have received two doses of vaccine are significantly less likely to be hospitalized or to have severe illness.

“This compares to the high rate of COVID, amongst unvaccinated but eligible people here in BC, 78% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are completely unvaccinated and a further 18% have only received their first dose,” she said.

This slide shows effects of not being vaccinated.
This slide shows effects of not being vaccinated.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/BC Government

“This is why it is extremely important that we all get both doses of vaccine, and now is our time to do that, not only to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us. We know that this virus is transmitted to those we are closest to, people we live with, our close family or friends, when we're socializing.”

There are only 906,772 people in B.C. who have yet to be vaccinated. Of those, 199,159 are within the Interior Health region, or 26.2% of the population. By comparison, in the Lower Mainland, the unvaccinated rate is between 14 to 18%.

To reach those who have not been vaccinated, Dr. Henry said that there is a new push to vaccinate.

“Starting today we are making it even easier for people to get vaccinated. To help them protect themselves and their loved ones against COVID-19,” she said.

“As part of the Vax for B.C. campaign, each health authority will be offering new and unique ways for people to get their first or second dose of the vaccine.”

On Aug. 4, all vaccination clinics will have walk-in possibilities but there will be other opportunities at pop-up clinics also. 

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the next two weeks is important on the vaccination front, and the aim is to do something positive to get the province into the next level of vaccination.

Unvaccinated rates in B.C. July 27, 2021.
Unvaccinated rates in B.C. July 27, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/BC Government

“What we are going to do in the next couple of weeks is drive immunization and find every possible opportunity in the next couple of weeks (to get immunized) and (encourage) people to get vaccinated. The benefits of that for you, for the community and for everyone else, are clear,” Dix said.

Ultimately, however, B.C. said that vaccine passports aren’t something they will employ and vaccination won’t be made mandatory.

However, measures may be taken to protect the community from COVID-19, including measures that see businesses closed when cases and clusters arise.

Health care workers will have more strict measures.

"We've already talked about, in long term care, that people who aren't immunized will need to take additional infection prevention and control measures including masking in all areas where they're providing services to residents and they will need to be tested on a regular basis and we are working through that, but first we need to give everybody the opportunity to be immunized," Dr. Henry said. 

"That is really important in health care, and I have very little patience for people who aren't immunized in healthcare."

There was already a mask policy for influenza, among health care workers, and B.C. will have a very similar policy with that if people choose not to be immunized.

Also, if they're working in healthcare, then they will not be able to work in certain settings without taking additional measures and there will be consequences for that decision.

Dr. Henry also said that she doesn't believe there are a lot of people who are not being vaccinated because they are strictly anti-vax. Those who are against it tend to have more complicated reasons.

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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