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BC Vaccine Passport to carry through winter – while lockdown for unvaccinated not in the province’s COVID-19 playbook, says BC PHO

As Austria locks down unvaccinated - this is not in BC's playbook.
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Through winter.

Locking down the unvaccinated like Austria has done over the last 48 hours is not something British Columbia is expecting – however BC Vaccine Passports will be used through the winter, says Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“(A lockdown of the unvaccinated) is not a strategy that we are looking at – at the moment,” says Dr. Bonnie Henry to the Dawson Creek Mirror.

“We have had to adjust strategies as we see things evolve. In most communities we are have higher immunization rates than in Austria. We are focusing on layers of protection we need,” she added, circling back to the importance of being vaccinated and having a BC Vaccination Passport.

“The BC vaccine card is going will be an important tool to help us get through winter – so we can get together, so we can have businesses open, to mitigate transfer,” she says.

“Vaccine cards are an important tool that will be in effect through the winter.”

Currently British Columbia’s passport mandate runs until the end of January. The end of winter is March 20, 2022.

Dr. Henry said passport use going indoors was a simple equation.

“We know indoor spaces are the highest risk spaces. That is why we have the vaccine card apply indoors.”

She added it was important to get vaccinated to protect those truly immune compromised.

In the north we are looking at each community’s immunization rate. This will help us determine what is needed moving forward. If you are having a gathering  - and having people who are immune compromised – be vaccinated. That is the best you can do to show respect," said Dr. Henry.

“We all as a community need to protect them (the immune compromised).”

Last Thursday Henry said stubborn rates of hospitalization is a reflection of the Delta variant - and its destruction on the unvaccinated vs. vaccinated populations of British Columbia.

“The difference is startling and hospitalization rate reflects this as well," said Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“Interior and the north, northeast and northwest, the last wave driven by cases in Interior and recent cases across the north.”

Henry broke down testing and positive rates in various age ranges, including school aged children.

“We are seeing a decrease across the board, except for people over 80 years old.”

Dr. Henry outlined the group contributing to hospitalization.

“It really is a predominantly non-vaccinated population we are seeing infections take off, and higher rates of infection,” she said adding the province seeing communities with high vaccination rates - have better protection.

Both Henry and Dix noted a 50 year old who was unvaccinated has a 10 times chance of a vaccinated person, and 50 times more of a chance to be hospitalized. They noted in 12-17 years old ages hospitalizations are low – and there have been none of the past month in fully vaccinated youth.

“None, and very few cases. Important to think about as vaccines are becoming available for the younger groups as well,” said Henry.

“This is now a preventable disease. Particular from serious illness and hospitalization.”

Henry outlined five steps to stay on track and to keep transmission rates on the downturn.

“We all need to continue to our collective efforts.”

Dix underlined the odds of being hospitalized if you aren’t vaccinated.

“You are 50 times more likely if you are unvaccinated. 50 times more likely."

He noted of the 100 people hospitalized since Halloween – six are from the two Peace River health area. Dix said the solution was simple.

“Increase dose one and increase dose two vaccination. This is absolutely critical. Each of those cases need support and people facing serious health difficulties far from home,” said Dix this afternoon speaking to the emotion of the day.

“Sadness – the vast people are dealing with COVID-19 and it is preventable. Look at the numbers. Look at the people who are not vaccinated, that need assistance breathing,” Dix said. Dr. Henry outlined why age is the number one factor related to COVID-19 deaths.

“Age is the number one factor of death (from COVID-19). The best thing we can do at any age is getting vaccinated. Older age does not respond to vaccine as strongly. It is the people around our elders and seniors – because if they are infected – it leads to more serious conditions,” Henry said.

“And as we get older – chances are we have underlining conditions, or living in assisted living or places where they cannot effectively isolate. For most people it causes a mild illness – but the risk goes up as age increases, and chances of them getting ill and dying is just that much greater.”