Vaccination key, avoid large gatherings: Dr. Henry

Dr. Henry asks the public to be prudent about gatherings over the holidays.

British Columbia's provincial health officer is urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as ongoing research is confirming its effectiveness at preventing hospitalization and death. Also, she called on people to be prudent regarding the size of holiday gatherings they planned to host or attend.

During a COVID-19 update to the media, Dr. Bonnie Henry presented updated data, which shows the majority of new cases and cases resulting in hospitalizations are in people who have not yet received a vaccine.

The new stats presented Tuesday show that while COVID-19 cases in B.C. have declined since the August-September spike, the unvaccinated still have high infection rates.

The data shows the highest daily case rates for the unvaccinated is in the 12–17 age group at approximately 35 cases per 100,000 people. That is followed by the 18–39 age group at about 30 per 100,000, then the 9–11 age group at around 25 per 100,000.

Comparatively, those vaccinated and between the ages of 18 and 59 share the highest daily case rates at five per 100,000.

She said since the booster shot program was rolled out, the number of new cases and breakthrough cases resulting in hospitalization, particularly in the hardest hit age group of those aged 70 and older, had declined. She said the province continues to expand its booster program to ensure people can remain protected against the virus and not put any more strain on the health-care system.

Be prudent over holidays: Henry

As the holidays approach, Henry said that in addition to being vaccinated, people should be careful to not expose themselves to high-transmission scenarios, such as parties and gatherings with strangers, and to maintain current masking, distancing and hand washing practices.

Henry said the province will not be bringing in any new regulations over the holidays, but does ask that people be careful, especially if travelling outside of their community to visit friends or family. She stressed the need to avoid large gatherings where the vaccination status of people is not known.

“Focus on protecting your family, your community,” she said. “Focus on having those close gatherings with your close friends, with your family. We all need that. We need to have that connection, especially after last year. We are in a different place, we have high rates of vaccination, we’re moving up our booster dose program, we’re protecting people. Those are the things that will help us, but we need to be thoughtful and prudent about our social interactions, especially over the next few weeks.”

Omicron variant in IH

Earlier Tuesday, the first cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant were confirmed in the Interior Health (IH) region.

The health ministry said there are now 44 confirmed cases in B.C. and three of those are in IH. The province does not release where exactly the cases are.

There are 24 cases in Fraser Health, 11 in Vancouver Coastal, five in Island Health and one in Northern Health.

With files from VernonMatters

Published 2021-12-14 by Glenn Hicks

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