By the end of next week, Interior Health expects to have offered at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to all the staff and residents of long-term care facilities.
It’s likely welcome news for long-term care residents and their families as some of the facilities continue to deal with serious COVID-19 outbreaks.
There are currently seven outbreaks at long-term care or assisted living facilities in Interior Health, including 65 cases and seven deaths connected to Heritage Square in Vernon and 51 cases and four deaths associated with Noric House in Vernon.
Interior Health, which serves the Southern Interior of B.C., said it has already administered more than 14,000 doses to priority groups.
All assisted living residents will also be offered shots by the end of next week.
Despite delays in the Pfizer vaccine delivery schedule, Interior Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Albert de Villiers, said the health authority is still aiming to have everyone from priority one groups offered a vaccine by the end of February.
“(Delivery delays) will definitely impact us, but it doesn’t throw off our plans too much,” de Villiers said.
Along with staff and residents at long-term care and assisted living facilities, those expected to get vaccines by the end of February include residents of remote First Nations communities and health-care staff who work with COVID-19 patients.
De Villiers said the vaccine isn’t mandatory for staff and not everyone is consenting to the vaccine.
De Villiers said the health authority sees the same thing with the influenza vaccine as not all staff members get vaccinated.
“We do strongly encourage them to take it,” de Villiers said.
De Villers said, due to the limited supply, the health authority isn’t offering vaccines to people who are currently sick with COVID-19 or those that have tested positive in the last few months.
However, de Villier said three months after their infection, those people who have recovered from COVID-19 will be eligible for a shot.
“We don’t know yet whether having a natural infection will actually protect you long-term so we can still go back and offer them the vaccine,” de Villiers said.