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B.C. COVID cases levelling off after spike amid vaccine uptake: DBH

As @KWalkerCityTV reports, the province says close to two million jabs of flu and COVID vaccines combined have been administered in the last month, with a decrease in COVID-19 cases after a peak in early October.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. is leading the way in Canada when it comes to vaccinations against the flu and COVID-19.

Since September, Henry says a combined total of close to two million doses have been administered to British Columbians.

Henry explains, because of this, COVID-19 cases have started leveling off after a spike in October.

As of Friday, there were 244 people in hospital with COVID-19, with Henry noting the “Omicron variations are causing most illness. ” Most of the current hospitalizations are people over the age of 60, Henry said.

“This is the time where it’s important to get our protection as we’re going into the worst part of the season in the next few weeks,” she said of the respiratory illness season on Friday.

Henry adds about two thirds of people already vaccinated have opted to get both their flu and COVID vaccines at the same time — something she recommends to make the process easier.

The latest update came after the Ministry of Health confirmed there was a limited supply of vaccine in some regions, though it didn’t specify exactly where.

“Several factors may contribute to the interim limited appointment availability in some regions. Pharmacies and health authority clinics that have appointments scheduled through November are already fully booked based on available supply received,” the ministry said last week.

“Some pharmacies have not yet made their November appointments available. Pharmacies will continue to post appointments as they receive additional vaccine, but they are being careful to not overbook and are taking a cautious approach.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix says new appointments are being added to the provincial booking system daily — including 26,000 added Thursday — so people should continue to refresh the website while booking.

“We have ample supply to meet demand. We’ve ordered 2.8 million COVID-19 vaccines [and] 2.3 million influenza vaccines for this respiratory season. The all-time record was 1,775,000,” he said.

Henry says British Columbians should continue to stay home or wear a mask if they’re experiencing respiratory symptoms. She recommends anyone considered “higher risk” should continue to wear a well-fitted mask, like an N95.

Friday’s update also comes after some health authorities and officials have ramped up preparations for potential spikes in patients this fall and winter. Earlier this week, Fraser Health confirmed to CityNews that a portable was being installed at Surrey Memorial Hospital to act as a temporary emergency waiting for the pediatric wing.

The health authority explained the portable is designed to be a space “dedicated to kids and their families to help ensure the best possible experience – especially during times when visit numbers are high.”

Avian flu outbreaks

In her update Friday, Henry says at least 16 farms in the Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island have been affected by Avian Flu outbreaks this fall.

“This is related to the migratory patterns of wild fowls, ducks and geese as they do their global migration,” she explained.

Due to the recent outbreaks, Henry says she encourages anyone who lives or works on a poultry farm should prioritize getting their influenza vaccine.

“It’s an important way of protecting yourself from influenza and making sure that you’re not a potential source of infection to the flocks as well,” she said.

Meanwhile, B.C. has ordered 2.8 million COVID-19 vaccines and 2.3 million influenza vaccines for the 2023-24 respiratory season. People can book an appointment through Immunize BC by calling 1-833-838-2323.

The Ministry of Health is encouraging anyone who wants an appointment to keep checking for new openings and to consider getting a shot in a neighbouring city. New appointments are added every day, it adds.

-With files from Sonia Aslam and Liza Yuzda

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