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Pandemic continues to put pressure on BC’s health care system

(Files by Dione Wearmouth-MyPGNow)

BC’s Health Minister Adrian Dix says in the last week, 238 surgeries have been postponed across BC as the fourth wave of the pandemic continues to take a toll on the health care system.

61 of these surgeries were in the North, and another 61 were in Interior Health.

Additionally, 100 ICU patients have been transferred from Northern Health to receive care in other health authorities.

“The biggest risk to our health care system is COVID-19,” stated Dix.

While BC’s COVID-19 case count has been slowly dropping, Dr.Bonnie Henry says case counts continue to be an issue in the North and other areas with low vaccination uptake.

“In those areas where coverage is not as high in those pockets where vaccination rates are not as high, those correspond to areas where we see increasing transmission.”

Henry says the unvaccinated population continues to make up the majority of new cases and hospitalizations.

About 60% of the people who were infected in the month of October are unvaccinated, which makes up around 10% of BC’s total vaccine eligible population.

“The vast majority of hospitalizations, 72% in the month of October, and over 90% of the people who required critical care are people who are not yet vaccinated. When it comes to the small number of people who have died from Covid, about half of those people were not vaccinated, mostly younger people.”

She adds the majority of vaccinated residents that passed away from the virus were older people who were also battling underlying conditions.

Henry says as an unvaccinated 50-year-old is ten times more likely to become infected compared to their vaccinated counterpart.

“The risk of hospitalization is 50 times greater than somebody the same age who’s been immunized,” she explained.

While rates remain high in the unvaccinated population, breakthrough infections among BC’s elderly population do occur, according to Henry.

Henry says this was always an expected reality because immune systems weaken as people get older, and many received both doses in a shorter time frame.

“We prioritized people over 80 to be immunized early on and many people received their immunization at a shorter interval, and we now know that that extended interval between dose one and dose two does, indeed give longer-lasting stronger protection,” Henry added.

She says seniors are still vulnerable, and that is why booster doses are being now being targeted towards BC’s 70+ population.

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