COVID numbers climb as vaccines are added to stats

COVID numbers climb as vaccines are added to stats

Since the end of 2020, 2,211 British Columbians have been diagnosed with COVID-19. These numbers begin to tell the tale of our behaviour over the Christmas holiday.

Another 45 British Columbians died of COVID-19, the majority being seniors.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says 24,139 prioritized British Columbians have been vaccinated to date.

Plans for the First Quarter (January through March) focus on protecting as many identified priority populations as possible.

Plans are in place to vaccinate 150,000 individuals with the two available vaccines.  70,000 of these are residents and staff of long-term residences, another 13,000 in assisted-living, and approximately 2,000 waiting for residential care beds in hospital or hospice.  Essential visitors at these facilities are also targeted for vaccination.

Current plans provide for the second dose after 35 days.

Scheduling of priority groups will vary depending on outbreaks in the community.

Dr. Henry emphasized the importance of protecting the 30,000 individuals on the health front lines, in ICU, the paramedics who transport the patients, and isolated First Nations communities with little available health care.

Health authorities don’t yet have guaranteed numbers of vaccines for February.

As Henry put it, “We are testing the system by learning through bumps and delays.”

Plans for March include vaccinating the 400,000 seniors over 80 living in the community, people living in shelters where they are more likely to end up in hospital, correctional facilities and group homes where people live in very close quarters, in home support workers, GPs, and at-risk First Nations communities.

The Pfizer and Moderna contracts will scale up in March providing greater volumes of vaccines.

There are challenges in dealing with the ‘fussy’ vaccines which require very specific temperature controls. The majority of these doses have been sent to Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health.

Canada is also expected to approve more vaccines sometime in the first quarter.  These additional vaccines would not likely be available before April.

Current plans for April would see seniors designated for vaccines by five-year cohorts, counting back from age 80.

We won’t see results overnight. Vaccine shipments to date are relatively small; there are shipping, storage and distribution challenges and needs will change as the pandemic continues.

Ever the voice of reason, Dr. Henry reinforced the need to continue to make COVID Safety measures part of our everyday routines.

“Our hope is that enough of us followed the rules to bring the numbers down. We are in this race right now and we need to make sure that we can win.”

Only a few more months.

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