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B.C. opens vaccinations to 80+ seniors and looks to allow religious services

The B.C. Government has opened appointment bookings for residents over 80-years-old, while officials look to safely allow for religious services to resume with a limited capacity.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer said B.C. has been working to reopen in-person faith services with COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“We will be providing a class variance to allow outdoor religious services in small numbers in the coming days,” said Henry. “We are working on advice on how we can have a workable approach to the gradual and safe reopening of ongoing indoor services for faith groups across the province, for all faith groups, starting in April.”

Henry noted that another variance to allow for services to be held for Easter and Passover will be publicized early next week.

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Meanwhile, the province has opened up the phone lines to seniors 80 years old and up to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointment.

Henry reminded the public to be wary of fraudsters when looking to book their shot.

“We’ve also heard, sadly, that some people are trying to take advantage of older people,” said Henry. “We will never ask you for your credit card information, or for any payment. If somebody does ask you for this kind of information, they are not from the health authority, it is not the right number and you need to hang up.”

When you do call the right number, however, you will need to provide some information for your appointment:

  • legal name
  • date of birth
  • postal code
  • personal health number (PHN) from the back of B.C. driver’s licences or BC services cards, and
  • current contact information; including a regularly monitored email address or phone number.

In the East Kootenay, 10 clinics are open to immunize residents against COVID-19:

  • Cranbrook
    • Cranbrook Curling Centre – 1777 2nd St. North
  • Kimberley
    • Centennial Hall – 100 4th Ave.
  • Fernie
    • Elk Valley Hospital Education Room – 1505 5 Ave.
  • Sparwood
    • Sparwood Health Centre – 570 Pine Ave.
  • Elkford
    • Elkford Health Centre – 212 Alpine Way
  • Invermere
    • Invermere Catholic Church – 712 12th Ave.
    • Akisqnuk Community Centre – 3050 HW-93
    • Shuswap Band Office – 4846 Althamer Road
  • Golden
    • Golden Curling Club – 1412 9th St. South
  • Creston
    • Creston Valley Hospital-ED room A – 312 15th Ave. North

Henry also noted that additional vaccines will be used to address community outbreak response. Health authorities have been approved to use the approximate 60,000 dose shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine for this purpose.

“We are using the vaccine to help break chains of transmission in communities, particularly where we are seeing risks, transmission, outbreaks and clusters in workplaces. These are the outbreaks we are seeing now, and this helps us reduce the transmission we are seeing in our community,” explained Henry.

Focus for this vaccination program will focus on high-risk workplaces, such as agricultural operations with shared accommodations and food processing plants.

Henry also spoke to the concern around the safety of the AstraZeneca shot, which has led to its discontinued use in a number of European countries.

“This has been linked to, as best we can tell so far, about 37 cases in several countries of several conditions related to blood clots,” said Henry. “We know that these things can happen naturally, we also know that they are associated, sometimes, with COVID itself.”

Henry noted that that about 17-million doses of the AstraZeneca have been given.

“This is lower than we might see in the general population without vaccination,” Henry explained. “We are confident that this is not a risk we are seeing in Canada.”

She then mentioned that B.C. and Canada as a whole has a number of safety measures around vaccination to ensure their safety.

“We follow strict protocols to identify and address any safety signals that show up,” explained Henry. “We look for anything that people might have that could be related to the vaccine in the time frame after they received the vaccine.”

According to Henry, 469 adverse events have followed vaccination across B.C., out of the total 409,103 doses that have been administered. 46 of the adverse events have been an allergic reaction.

Numbers

Between Friday and Monday, 1,506 new COVID-19 cases were reported across B.C., with 80 in Interior Health.

Breaking down the weekend’s cases:

  • Friday to Saturday: 555
  • Saturday to Sunday: 491
  • Sunday to Monday: 460

In the East Kootenay, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) reported seven new cases between March 5th to 11th. The region has seen a total of 402 cases since the pandemic began.

The BCCDC said 346 cases remain active within the Interior Health region, with 15 patients being treated for COVID-19 in the hospital, three of whom are in intensive care.

So far, IH has seen 7,857 total cases with 7,398 recoveries.

110 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the IH region to date.

Across B.C., there are 4,987 active cases remaining, 269 of them have been hospitalized and 76 are in the ICU.

According to the BCCDC, 88,373 total cases have been reported province-wide since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, 81,890 British Columbians have recovered.

10 more deaths have been attributed to the virus in B.C. over the weekend. 1,407 people have died from the coronavirus in the province so far.

Current COVID-19 statistics:

  • Mortality rate (deaths to total recoveries):
    • Province-wide: 1.72%.
    • Interior Health: 1.49%.
  • Recovery rate (recoveries to total cases):
    • Province-wide: 92.66%.
    • Interior Health: 94.16%.
  • Tests (total and new):
    • Province-wide: 2,059,338 total, 7,198 new (Sunday to Monday).
    • Interior Health: 206,494 total, 514 new (Sunday to Monday).
  • Positive test rate (total and new):
    • Province-wide: 4.29% total, 6.39% new (Sunday to Monday).
    • Interior Health: 3.8% total, 4.28% new (Sunday to Monday).

More: BCCDC COVID-19 data (BCCDC)

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