Fall COVID-19 booster rollout begins in B.C. with 20,000 appointments booked

Click to play video: 'British Columbians roll up their sleeves again for fall vaccines'
British Columbians roll up their sleeves again for fall vaccines
B.C.'s fall vaccination campaign has kicked off with tens of thousands of British Columbians set to roll up their sleeves Tuesday. Grace Ke now with more on how you and your family can stay protected during the respiratory illness season – Oct 10, 2023

British Columbia’s fall COVID-19 booster program has begun, with more than 600,000 invitations to book appointments sent to seniors, health-care workers and the medically vulnerable as of Tuesday.

Some 20,000 vaccinations are expected to take place Tuesday alone. Health Canada has approved both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s new vaccines, targeting this season’s Omicron variant of concern.

“I think what we’re going to see is a consistent evolution of COVID-19 vaccines, just as we do with a different flu shot every year,” said B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix in an interview.

Click to play video: 'B.C. COVID-19, flu vaccine rollout begins'
B.C. COVID-19, flu vaccine rollout begins

According to the BC Centre for Disease Control‘s latest data, COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the province, with hospitalizations up 58 per cent in the past two weeks.

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Deaths due to COVID-19 are also trending upwards, with 24 fatalities in the last week of September, compared with nine in the second week of August, the BC CDC reports.

It says new infections rose to 877 cases from 133 cases in the same period, having “increased notably” among people 60 and older.

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There were 422 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Thursday, compared with 267 on Sept. 21, and over the same time period, the number in critical care rose to 26 from 17.

Click to play video: 'Health Canada approves updated COVID-19 vaccine'
Health Canada approves updated COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, described the current strains of the virus as “descendants of Omicron.”

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“This is just the extra layer of protection that we need going forward,” he told Global News on Tuesday.

“We’re far away from our last vaccinations. We may be backing off on some of the common sense precautions that need to be in place, … so let’s remind ourselves that COVID is out there. There’s still a risk.”

The vaccine is available at more than 1,300 pharmacies across the province, some of which can also administer a flu vaccine in the same appointment. The shot is recommended for people who have not had COVID-19, a booster or a known infection in the past six months.

More information on how to get a COVID-19 vaccine or register for the Get Vaccinated program is available on the B.C. government’s website.

— with files from The Canadian Press


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