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Province encourages vaccinations as respiratory illness cases surge

BC’s Ministry of Health said hospitals are experiencing a surge of in-patients as the respiratory illness season continues. 

In a teleconference on Wednesday, Health Minister Adrian Dix revealed that the province experienced a record-breaking number of hospitalizations on Tuesday night. He said 10,435 people were hospitalized, many of whom had a respiratory illness. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry accompanied Dix in the teleconference and stated that the province expects a continued increase in influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in the coming weeks, along with COVID-19. 

However, COVID-19 activity has remained steady and has been decreasing since November. 

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The province said 219 patients were hospitalized last week with COVID-19, 26 of whom were admitted to critical care. 

The increase in cases and hospitalizations has prompted the province to strongly encourage residents to adopt healthy practices to prevent the spread of diseases and slow down pressure on the healthcare system, stated Minister Dix. 

“Illness is significantly affecting the health of a lot of people in our province. This is the time to get vaccinated. We have some time here; it’s an important time. We’re at the peak of the season. This is an important time to get your COVID-19 vaccine and your flu vaccine in BC,” said Dix. 

Regarding COVID-19, Dr. Henry said the province’s epidemiological data showed that 80 percent of residents in the province have some COVID-19 antibodies, and nearly all residents have developed COVID-19 immunity now. 

She said the data proves the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in preventing hospitalizations. 

“Over 80 percent of people continue to have a lower level of infection, and that’s a good thing,” explained Henry. “It tells us that the vaccination, especially in that highest risk age group, are working very well to protect people from infection and it also shows the importance of continuing to get an updated vaccine.” 

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