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North sees 71 new COVID cases, public health orders extended – Prince George Citizen

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The Northern Health region saw 71 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Friday, the same day provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry extended the current public health restrictions indefinitely.

While the province has been making some headway in bringing the number of active COVID-19 cases down, 19 cases of the U.K. variant of the disease and nine cases of the South African variant have been reported in B.C. since Dec. 1.

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“We want to protect the progress we have made since the start the year and not throw away our success. To do this, we need to buy ourselves some time – time to get our immunization program back up to speed as vaccine supply is restored and scaled up, and time to understand whether and how the variants of concern will affect transmission in our communities,” Henry and Dix said in a joint statement on Friday afternoon.

“With this in mind, the current province-wide public health orders are being kept in place. Between now and the end of the month, we will be continually reconsidering the need for the restrictions based on incidence and prevalence of the virus, new information about transmission, especially understanding the impact of variants, and the progress of vaccine supply and our immunization program.”

On Friday, Henry and Dix reported 471 new cases in the province. The number of active cases dropped slightly, to 4,423. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 also declined slightly, down to 253 – including 70 in critical care.

The number of active cases in the Northern Health region wasn’t provided, but on Friday the B.C. Centre for Disease Control reported 374 active cases in the north – down from 397 on Thursday.

There were 18 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Northern Health region, including 15 in critical care, the B.C. CDC reported.

Across the province, six more COVID-related deaths were reported on Friday, bringing the province’s death toll from the pandemic to 1,246. The death toll in the north remained at 85.

“To date, 149,564 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 10,366 of which are second doses,” Henry and Dix said.

In the Northern Health region, 5,111 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, including 112 second doses, the B.C. CDC reported.

Data released by Henry during a special update on Friday morning showed that 87 per cent of long-term care residents and 89 per cent of long-term care staff in B.C. had received their first doses of COVID vaccine. Two per cent of residents and 15 per cent of staff had already received their second dose.

In assisted living facilities, essentially all residents and 90 per cent of staff have had their first vaccine dose, with small numbers having gotten a second shot.

Out of the more than 145,500 doses administered between December and Thursday, only 205 cases of adverse side effects have been reported in the province. Of those, 55 were classified as serious, such as a severe allergic reaction.

For those worried about COVID-19 exposures in schools, B.C.’s data continues to show that children have lower-than average rates of infection. Between Sept. 7 and Jan. 31, children aged five to 12 made up 4.8 per cent of new cases despite being 7.7 per cent of the total B.C. population. Youth 13-18 years old make up 6.2 per cent of the population, but only 5.9 per cent cases.

In addition, the start of school on Sept. 10 and again on Jan. 4 didn’t have a significant impact on the number of cases among school-age children or the community at large.

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“We want a smooth, flat path to the finish with few, if any, hurdles of outbreaks or unchecked transmission in our community. We are not quite there yet, but we are getting closer every day,” Henry and Dix said. “We need to stay on the path we have been on so far in 2021 and remember that one or two super-spreading events, or even a small increase in our risky contact with others, can quickly counteract all of that work. Seeing one more friend or having one birthday party with those outside our household is all that it could take.”

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48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health – Salmon Arm Observer – Salmon Arm Observer

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Forty-eight COVID-19 vaccine clinics will open across Interior Health (IH) in the coming weeks.

People aged 90 and over (those born before or in 1931), as well as Indigenous people over 65 (born in or before 1956) and elders, will be able to begin booking appointments Monday (March 8) through IH’s call centre at 1-877-740-7747. On March 15, that will open to people 85 and older (born in or before 1936) and on March 22, people over 80 (born in or before 1941) will be able to book their appointment to receive the first dose of the vaccine. The call centre will be open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. every day.

After a person becomes eligible for the vaccine, they can book an appointment anytime. Eligible people looking to book an appointment can do so themselves or have another person book the appointment on their behalf.

Callers are asked to have on hand their legal name, date of birth, postal code, personal health number and current contact information, including a regularly-checked email address for booking confirmation.

READ MORE: Canada’s chief of public health hopeful as Health Canada approves 4th vaccine

READ MORE: Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

The 48 clinics, located across the health authority’s widespread geographical boundaries, are set to open as soon as March 15 and deployment will be adapted as the vaccine rollout continues. A full list of clinics is available on IH’s website.

“The list you see today will be adjusted according to need,” said Karen Bloemink, IH’s vice president of pandemic response, during a press conference on Sunday (March 7).

To prepare for anticipated high call volumes, IH is asking people to stick to the outlined schedule to prevent a system overload. The health authority reassured there will be enough supply for all who want to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure everyone that they will not miss their chance to get a vaccine if they want to get a vaccine,” said Bloemink.

IH will contact individuals when their second dose is due, after about four months, allowing them to make another appointment.

While IH expects the majority of individuals to come to clinics, it is working with known clients who need accommodations due to mobility issues. Those plans could involve home visits if required.

Despite the concerns of many regarding vaccine efficacy rates, recipients will not be able to choose which vaccine they get.

The majority of clinics will be offering the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers said have comparable efficacy. The AstraZeneca vaccine will be reserved for younger people, and the use of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still to be determined within IH.

Those who are vaccinated in the next few weeks will still need to follow currently in-place health orders. De Villiers said in the coming months, he hopes visitation can increase.

“At this stage, the provincial health officer’s orders are still in place,” de Villiers said. “Even if you’ve got your vaccine, you should still follow all those orders.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


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Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents – Port Alberni Valley News – Alberni Valley News

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Thousands more seniors are set to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine over the coming month at 19 clinics on Vancouver Island.

Island Health announced today, March 7, more details of its regional plan to support the next phase of B.C.’s immunization program.

The health authority identified the locations of 19 community clinics from Sooke to Port Hardy. The list of clinic locations can be found at this link.

Half a dozen clinics on the Island are classified as “mass” clinics able to accommodate 15-20 people at a time, with up to 12 immunizations per station per hour, said Victoria Schmid, Island Health’s vice-president of pandemic planning, during a press conference. Mass clinics will be located at Parksville Community Centre, Beban Park in Nanaimo, the Cowichan Community Centre gym in Duncan, Eagle Ridge Arena in Langford, the Archie Browing Sports Centre in Esquimalt and the University of Victoria’s McKinnon Gym.

Registration starts Monday, March 8, for non-Indigenous people age 90 and over and Indigenous elders 65 and over, and vaccine appointments will begin March 15. To make an appointment, an eligible person or someone calling on their behalf should call 1-833-348-4787 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.

Call centre operators will ask for legal name, date of birth, postal code, personal health number, phone number and an e-mail address.

Individuals 85 and over can start calling March 15 to make appointments for the week starting March 22. Island Health hopes to have all elderly seniors aged 80-plus immunized by April 12.

“The more we can do to make this a successful launch, the quicker we can get through populations and the quicker we’re back to having beers on the patio over the summer,” Schmid said.

She said Island Health anticipates having “more than enough supply” of vaccine doses and is expecting to receive close to 25,000 doses per week by the end of this month.

“We will just continue to see more and more supply in this phase, which is such a good news story for our population,” she said.

Island Health, in the release, said the opening of the community clinics will “continue to build on a successful vaccination program” that has delivered more than 60,000 doses so far to seniors in long-term care and assisted living, health-care workers and members of First Nations communities.

Island Health said its teams have “done a lot of planning and have prepared for a number of contingencies, and appreciate patience and the “continued kindness” that has been shown to health-care workers.

“This is the largest immunization rollout any of us has experienced, and it will not be without challenges,” the release concluded. “We will get through those challenges together, as we move closer to a time when we can be together with our loved ones and friends once again.”

There are about 30 small and remote communities on Vancouver Island that do not have immunization clinics among the 19 locations on the list. Residents in those communities “will be vaccinated in a whole-of-community approach,” the health authority said, which may involve one- or two-day immunization clinics.

READ ALSO: Vaccines coming, B.C. seniors need to be ready, premier says

READ ALSO: Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

READ ALSO: Stay informed about COVID-19



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Northern Health vaccine clinics open tomorrow: what to know – My PG Now

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Northern Health plans to administer nearly 15-thousand COVID-19 vaccine doses between March 15 and April 10 — that goal starts tomorrow (Monday).

As capacity expands, several mass clinics are expected to open later in April.

Seniors aged 90 and older and Indigenous people aged 65 and older will be allowed to start booking COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

Northern Health CEO Cathy Ulrich says more than 30 vaccine clinic locations will be opening across the region.

The call centre will operate from 7 am to 7 pm PST, seven days a week, and clinic locations will be confirmed at the time of booking.

“We are a little different than the larger areas in the province, with the exception of Prince George, where we won’t likely be keeping immunization sights open for the entire four weeks,” said Ulrich.

“We’ll be doing more of a pop-up clinic for a few days.”

Following that, a catch up is planned for any individuals who might have been missed.

“Northern Health continues to work in partnership with First Nations Health Authority, Métis Nation British Columbia, Friendship Centres and other community organizations, to ensure COVID-19 immunization clinics will have cultural supports available for those who self-identify as Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) individuals,” she added.

Vaccine appointment call centres expect to have high call volumes in the coming days and weeks.

“If it’s not your turn yet, please do not call in to book an appointment,” said Ulrich.

“Nobody will miss the chance to the get the vaccine when a new phase starts. Once you become eligible you are always elligible.”

Northern Health also encourages reaching out to family, friends and neighbours to see if they need help booking an appointment.

For more information, what you should have ready, and step-by-step instructions on how to call to book an appointment for yourself, for a family member, for a friend or neighbour, please visit the BC Seniors First website.

The full list of clinic locations is available on the Northern Health COVID-19 Vaccine Plan web page.

Northern Health Vaccine Clinic Locations (Click to enlarge)

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