A dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru clinic at Evraz Place in Regina on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press)

A dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru clinic at Evraz Place in Regina on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press)

Vaccination rates continue slow rise in North Thompson LHA

Interior Health vaccination clinics will be closed Thursday, Sept. 30

New cases of COVID-19 continue to be reported in the North Thompson Local Health Area, averaging about four cases per week for the month of September. In the Kamloops LHA, the three-week average is 225, according to data released by the BC Centres for Disease Control.

From Sept. 12 to 18, the North Thompson LHA recorded five more new cases of COVID-19, while the Kamloops LHA recorded 158 new cases.

The average daily case rate for the Kamloops LHA, from Aug. 29 to Sept. 18, dropped slightly to 15.1 to 20 cases per 100,000, from over 20 per 100,000 just two weeks ago. In the North Thompson LHA, however, average daily cases have risen from 5.1 to 10 per 100,000 to 15.1 to 20 per 100,000 in the same time frame, according to the LHA map.

Interior Health has noted three outbreaks at long-term care and seniors facilities have been declared in Kamloops by Interior Health, including The Hamlets at Westsyde, with three staff and three resident cases, Overlander Long-Term Care, with 13 resident and five staff testing positive and Kamloops Seniors Village recording new cases in 10 residents and nine staff, as well as one death connected to the outbreak.

The North Thompson Local Health Area recorded five new cases of COVID-19 from Sept. 12 to 18, while 158 new cases were reported in the Kamloops LHA. (BC Centres for Disease Control

An outbreak was also reported at Royal Inland Hospital on Sept. 28 by Interior Health, following an investigation. Two patients tested positive in Unit 6 North, according to the health authority.

“An outbreak management team is in place, asymptomatic testing is underway and additional outbreak measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to other areas,” a media release from IH reads.

Case rate by vaccination status

The BC CDC released statistics comparing case rates and hospitalizations based on vaccination status — unvaccinated, one dose and two doses. In both categories, the numbers drop significantly as people get their shots.

From Aug. 30 to Sept. 26, over 130 per 10,000 unvaccinated individuals were reported to have COVID-19, compared to 44 per 10,000 with their first dose and 12 per 10,000 who have been fully vaccinated.

Hospitalizations also show significant decreases in numbers as 185.4 hospitalizations per 100,000 were of those who were unvaccinated, compared to 26.6 with a first dose and 3.3 with both shots.

A similar pattern is noticed when looking at case rates by various age groups. Those aged 80 and over who are unvaccinated report new daily cases at an average of over 130 per 100,000 per day. The average rate of new cases in the same age group, but fully vaccinated, is about 4 per 100,000 per day.

The North Thompson continues to see a steady rise in vaccination numbers. From Sept. 7 to 28, the vaccination rate for first dose in those eligible aged 12 and over has increased one per cent per week from 72 to 74 per cent. Second doses in the region have experienced a similar pattern, increasing one per cent per week in the same time period from 65 to 67 per cent.

Overall, vaccination numbers are higher in the Kamloops LHA, as 86 per cent of those eligible, 12 and over, received their first dose by Sept. 28, up from 83 per cent on Sept. 7. The rate for second doses rose as well over the same time period, jumping two per cent from Sept. 14 to 21, not long after the provincial vaccine passports were established. As of Sept. 28, 78 per cent of eligible individuals had received their second dose.

Vaccination rates are updated by the BC CDC every Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, Sept. 28, 87.8 per cent of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 80.6 per cent received their second dose.

Vaccines are still being offered throughout the region.

Immunization clinics are available in Clearwater every Thursday until Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.) and Barriere every Tuesday until Oct. 26 from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. (closed between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.), both at the local health centres.

An additional clinic is being held Wednesday, Sept. 29 in Clearwater at the same location and time.

Interior Health announced Sept. 28 that all immunization clinics in the region would be closed Thursday, Sept. 30 for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Why get vaccinated?

Even when fully vaccinated, some may still contract the COVID-19 virus. The vaccine gives the body the tools it needs to develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19. However, it can take up to two weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes, defensive white blood cells, to combat the virus, according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unfortunately, some can be infected with the virus just before or after getting vaccinated because it didn’t have enough time to provide protection. That is why public health officials still recommend physical distancing of two metres, wearing masks indoors or where it is harder to keep space and sanitize and practice proper hygiene.

Two weeks after a person is fully vaccinated, they will likely be well protected and their risk of serious illness, and requiring a trip to the ICU, is much lower. The risk of transmitting the virus to others also drops after full immunization, and Health Canada notes it’s likely a fully vaccination person will have very good protection against infection, including most variants of concern.

There is a small percentage of the population, however, who are fully vaccinated that will still be infected with the COVID-19 virus, if they are exposed to it, though it’s more likely in those who are 65 years of age and older and those who have underlying health conditions, the Health Canada website states.

ALSO READ: B.C. COVID-19 infections levelling off, 653 more reported Tuesday

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