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Unvaccinated People Drive Up COVID Cases, Hospitalizations and Deaths – TheTyee.ca

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COVID-19 cases appear to be stabilized or decreasing in most parts of British Columbia, but more than 450,000 people who have chosen not to be vaccinated remain at much greater risk of illness and death.

New modelling from public health officials released Thursday shows unvaccinated people are 10 times more likely to be infected and 50 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than someone of the same age who is vaccinated.

And an unvaccinated individual’s risk of death is 46 times greater than someone their age who is fully vaccinated.

“The difference is stark,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “It is in a predominantly unvaccinated population where we are seeing case rates take off.”

About 9.9 per cent of eligible people — those over 12 — are unvaccinated, but they accounted for 60 per cent of new cases in October, and 72 per cent of people in hospital.

Just under half of the 179 people who died in October were unvaccinated, Henry said, and six per cent had a single shot.

The remaining 46 per cent of deaths were among people who had two shots, the vast majority of whom were over 80.

Vaccines are safe and effective at preventing serious illness in all age groups, Henry said. But the single greatest risk factor for illness and death continues to be age.

Henry stressed the importance of booster shots for older people and those who are immunocompromised. The province has begun rolling out for people in long-term care and those over 70.

About 90 per cent of people over 12 across the province has had at least one dose of vaccine.

But areas in the North, Interior and Fraser Valley health authorities continue to have low coverage and, as a result, high transmission rates, Henry said.

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COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to be at high levels.

Analysis from the independent BC COVID-19 Modelling Group show communities with just 75 per cent vaccinated have four times the number of cases than communities with 95-per-cent vaccine coverage.

The vaccination-rate difference is most dramatic among those under 50, who in some parts of the North lag the provincial vaccine rates of their peers by up to 20 per cent.

“The Delta virus is spreading more easily and causing more severe illness in younger people, and particularly those who don’t have the protection of immunization,” said Henry.

The North has seen more than 100 people in need of critical care transferred to hospitals in other health authorities due to an influx of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in its hospitals.

Currently, 480 of the province’s base 510 critical care beds are being used, about 137 of those by COVID-19 patients.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said “the vast majority of people who have been transferred are dealing with COVID-19.” It is frustrating, he said, because with a vaccine “it is preventable.”

Mask mandates and other measures helped stabilize cases, according to Henry, and won’t be lifted while hospitalizations remain high.

The independent modelling group also noted cases will continue to decline as people build immunity from vaccination, and children under 12 become eligible for vaccination in the coming weeks and months.

“This is not the time in any way to let off what we are doing to protect our families and our communities,” said Henry.  [Tyee]

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COVID-19 immunization clinics open to B.C. kids ages five to 11 today – Toronto Star

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VICTORIA – Children in British Columbia between five and 11 years old can start getting shots of a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine today.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said last week that about 350,000 children are eligible to receive the modified dose of the Health Canada-approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Health Canada approved the pediatric shot for use in Canada after an independent scientific review confirmed the first vaccine formulated for younger children is safe and effective.

Henry says the same vaccine has been administered to more than three million children in the United States and there have been no “safety signals” as a result.

She says the vaccine will help children and families safely return to activities that benefit physical and mental health.

Dr. Penny Ballem, the executive lead for B.C.’s vaccination drive, has said she expects the full children’s immunization effort including second doses to conclude by the end of January.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2021.

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COVID-19 immunization clinics open to B.C. kids ages five to 11 today – Times Colonist

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VICTORIA — Children in British Columbia between five and 11 years old can start getting shots of a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine today. 

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said last week that about 350,000 children are eligible to receive the modified dose of the Health Canada-approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Health Canada approved the pediatric shot for use in Canada after an independent scientific review confirmed the first vaccine formulated for younger children is safe and effective. 

Henry says the same vaccine has been administered to more than three million children in the United States and there have been no “safety signals” as a result.

She says the vaccine will help children and families safely return to activities that benefit physical and mental health.

Dr. Penny Ballem, the executive lead for B.C.’s vaccination drive, has said she expects the full children’s immunization effort including second doses to conclude by the end of January.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2021.

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COVID-19: Children between five and 11 are eligible for vaccinations starting Monday – Vancouver Sun

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Health Canada approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11 on Nov. 19. This vaccine uses a lower dose of 10 micrograms — one-third of the dose given to older children and adults

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Children in B.C. between five and 11 years old start receiving the first doses of their COVID-19 vaccines on Monday.

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More than 90,000 out of the 350,000 eligible children, or 26 per cent, in that age category were registered a week before the rollout, according to the B.C. government.

The government’s own surveys show that most parents support getting vaccines for their young children, but there are some whose views might keep the vaccination rate lower for this age category.

Of B.C. parents who responded, 58 per cent will register to vaccinate their children right away, while another 18 per cent planned to wait, and nearly 25 per cent said they are not sure they will do it, according to Penny Ballem, the executive lead for B.C.’s immunization efforts.

A parent or legal guardian has to give verbal consent ahead of a child being vaccinated, according to Ballem.

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Health Canada approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11 on Nov. 19. This vaccine uses a lower dose of 10 micrograms that is one-third of the dose given to older children and adults.

COVID-19 information from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control from Nov. 25 shows that 80 per cent of British Columbians at the next age group up, aged 12 to 17, are now fully vaccinated and more than 87 per cent have a first dose.

There are varying rates in different health authorities, however. In Fraser, Vancouver Coastal and Vancouver Island, it is higher at 82 per cent, 89 per cent and 83 per cent, respectively. In Interior, it was 70 per cent and in Northern, it was 59 per cent.

Within authorities, there is also a wide spectrum. As of Nov. 23, Enderby and Kettle Creek in the Interior authority had only 38 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds double vaccinated, while Kimberley posted 80 per cent. In Vancouver Coastal, Bella Coola Valley had 59 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds double vaccinated, while North Vancouver was at 93 per cent.

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Between Oct. 27 to Nov. 25, the number of average daily cases per 100,000 people among the double vaccinated for this 12 to 17 age group across B.C. was 2.5. Among those who had one vaccination, the number of average daily cases per 100,000 people was 8.2. And for the unvaccinated, the figure was 46.8 per 100,000.

For that same period, in the category of 0-11 year olds, who are all unvaccinated, the number of average daily cases per 100,000 people was 16.8.

“I think the most important thing is that vaccinations be readily available for all children and families,” said Teri Mooring, president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

“For families where it’s not convenient for them to book an appointment in a separate clinic or perhaps they work long hours or there are other various individual circumstances, we think there should be an option (for COVID-19 vaccination) in schools as well.”

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Mooring said that “it was a concern with the 12- to 17-year-olds as well and what we’re seeing in some parts of the province, where we have vaccine hesitancy, we are still those (vaccination) numbers lag behind. We don’t want that to be the case for the five to 11-year-olds.”

Youth aged 12 to 18 have to carry a B.C. Vaccine card, or have a trusted adult carry one for them, to go to restaurants and attend indoor, organized events. Unlike adults, they don’t have to also show government-issued identification. Children aged five to 11 are not be required to show proof of vaccination.

jlee-young@postmedia.com

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