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HomeNewsDr. Bonnie Henry focusing on vaccines, illicit drugs, post-pandemic summer

Dr. Bonnie Henry focusing on vaccines, illicit drugs, post-pandemic summer

BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry mentioned better days are ahead as we continue to navigate a critical point in the pandemic.

This comes as the province reported new record highs in active cases, hospitalizations, and those in critical care.

In an interview with Vista Radio, Henry stated a post-pandemic is still a possibility as vaccination efforts continue.

“I know we are all tired, it’s hard but we need to get through this next period of time where we have vaccine coming on a regular basis and we will get everybody protected by June and I do believe that we will be in a post-pandemic summer. We can get through this.”

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“These vaccines are effective. They work. After a first dose, they work, really well and so, we have that on our side. What’s not on our side is the fact that we now have strains of the virus that are circulating that are more transmissible so it’s up to us.”

According to the COVID-19 vaccine tracker website, Northern Health has the lowest number of vaccine doses administered out of all five health authorities at 63,332.

It also states only 2,840 people have been fully vaccinated in our region.

In some cases, northern residents are showing hesitancy in getting inoculated.

“I know there has been really great uptick in some communities but in others, people are reluctant. Now is the time to take a really hard look at this and recognize that we have safe vaccines and this is going to be the difference for us in getting through this.”

“We can scale up with as much vaccine as we can get and we are very close to the wire that when vaccines come in we get it into the clinics and into people’s arms. When we think back to January and February when we had that dry up of the Pfizer vaccine, that really set us behind – it’s something we can’t change, it is what it is. We are focused now on getting vaccines as efficiently as possible and the good thing is we are starting to see the benefits of those vaccines in protecting older people that we started with,” added Henry.

In addition, Henry is also of the opinion the provincial government took a step in the right direction requesting a federal exemption from Health Canada to decriminalize personal possession of drugs in the province.

Since 2016, over 7,000 people have lost their lives to illicit drug toxicity in BC since a public health emergency was declared.

If approved, Henry is confident the exemption would tear down some barriers for people who currently use.

“It has shown us the inequities and the challenges that are in our society right now that we need to address. One of them is to take away that stigma that a criminal record carries with it and the barrier it gives to people.”

“It’s not going to solve our problem but it is a really important piece to the puzzle.”

1,724 people died last year from illicit drugs, which is a new record high.

The Province is also boosting funds to secure recently expanded overdose prevention services for people at high risk of overdose provincewide.

A $45-million investment over the next three years will extend and enhance the funding announced in August 2020.

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