New variant in B.C., unvaccinated IH healthcare workers getting the jab

No plans to impose restrictions on the unvaccinated, like in Austria.

  • Previously unvaccinated IH workers down from 1,300s to 911
  • 2,885 total healthcare workers unvaccinated across province

The first cases of a sub-lineage of the COVID-19 Delta variant have been confirmed in British Columbia.

Meanwhile, the government said there is ‘significant progress’ in getting the jab into the arms of previously unvaccinated health-care workers in Interior Health.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the mutated strain of AY4.2 was found in a single-family cluster in the Fraser Health region, and there were three known cases.

During Tuesday’s COVID-19 update, Henry said this AY4.2 strain has been seen in Europe in the past few weeks, and is not surprised to see it in B.C.

“We are watching closely, particularly now with these new cases of AY4.2, as this was a specific mutation that’s been found in the UK, it’s not yet its own variant of concern … but we are continuing to follow the whole genome sequencing and making sure we’re aware of what strains are being transmitted here in British Columbia.”

Unvaccinated healthcare workers

As for the drive to get previously unvaccinated healthcare workers immunized, Health Minister Adrian Dix said there continued to be progress in IH, which at four per cent, joined Northern Health as having the highest percentage of unvaccinated staff by health region.

Dix said the latest count showed 911 of the 2,885 healthcare workers across the province who are not vaccinated are in Interior Health.

“There’s a real effort going on in Interior Health, to encourage people to get vaccinated and to give people quick access to the vaccine,” Dix said. “You’ll recall that number was around 1,300 a couple of weeks ago.”

Lockdowns for the unvaccinated?

As parts of Europe grapple with the resurgence of the virus, Dr. Henry was asked if B.C. would ponder lockdowns for the unvaccinated like they have introduced in Austria.

“It’s not a strategy we’re looking at, at the moment,” Henry said. “It’s important to say we’ve had to adjust our strategies as we’ve seen things evolve. I will say in most communities, even communities where we have below the average immunization rates, we’re higher than some of the communities they’re seeing in Austria.”

With files from Liam Verster/Vernon Matters

Published 2021-11-16 by Glenn Hicks

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