COVID vaccines “very available” as B.C. starts its fall booster campaign

Side of the Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke.
Meagan Deuling - VF 2590 - RevelstokeBC | 07-09-2022
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A new type of COVID-19 vaccine will soon be available in B.C. for adults 18 and older.

Health Canada approved on Sept. 1 what’s called a bivalent, or combination vaccine. It has two proteins from different strains of the virus that causes COVID. B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said yesterday that it targets all strains of the Omicron variant.

“[This] stimulates a very strong immune boost against all of the Omicron strains,” Henry said.

B.C. Health will prioritize who gets a shot of the new vaccine by who’s at most risk of getting severely sick. That includes people 60 years and older, those immunocompromised, and Indigenous communities.

British Columbians registered for vaccinations will get an invitation to book an appointment for their next shot in the coming weeks, Henry said.

Currently those without any shots can book an appointment for their first doses at any time. Same goes for people with less than three doses—as long as it’s been six months since their last shot.

People who have been infected with COVID-19, should wait three months after their recovery before booking their next shot.

Vaccines are available for people six month old and up.

Immunity levels against COVID-19 in B.C. are currently good, Henry said.

That’s because a relatively high number of British Columbians have received three doses of vaccine, 67 per cent of those eligible, and many have also been sick, which gives them immunity.

Those who have received three doses and have been sick have the highest immunity, it’s called hybrid immunity.

“There are far fewer people in our community now … who are at risk of severe illness from COVID.” Henry said.

Vaccines are also “very, very available,” she said.

Despite this, B.C.’s Minister of Health Adrian Dix said, we’re not out of the woods of this pandemic yet.

Health care workers are  feeling the strain from the spread of COVID among their own members, and the continued high workload.

Many more workers than usual were off sick the week before Labour Day—about 15,800, Dix said. Last fall, there were 203,315 total health care workers in B.C.

Furthermore, Henry said, we don’t know what variants will come next.

Influenza is another factor health officials are keeping an eye on. The flu was bad in Australia and New Zealand this past winter, and Henry is expecting the same in Canada.

However, although enacting more public health restrictions isn’t out of the realm of possibility, Henry doesn’t think it will be necessary.

People know what they need to do. Things like having good ventilation in indoor spaces, staying home when sick, keep up with vaccinations, and washing hands and cleaning.

These practices are “baked in,” Henry said.

“We can trust people now in our community to do those measures,” Henry said, “we don’t need a heavy hand of putting in legal restrictions, in my opinion.”

The most recent available data from the B.C. Centre for disease control, from Aug. 21 – 27, shows Revelstoke has zero reported cases of COVID. However those numbers have fluctuated from week to week throughout the summer.