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Interior Health long-term care residents to be offered COVID-19 vaccines by the end of next week

Click to play video: 'Some seniors still left waiting to take COVID-19 vaccines' Some seniors still left waiting to take COVID-19 vaccines
WATCH: Although seniors in long-term care homes are being prioritized in Canada's vaccine rollout, those living outside those facilities are still waiting for their turn. – Jan 20, 2021

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.

Read more: Canada will receive zero Pfizer vaccine deliveries during last week of January

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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.

Read more: Coronavirus: 3 more deaths, 91 new cases for Interior Health region

De Villiers said the vaccine isn’t mandatory for staff and not everyone is consenting to the vaccine.

“We do strongly encourage the staff [to get vaccinated], and most of the staff actually do take the vaccine. There are some people who, due to some kind of an allergy or some kind of another issue, just can’t take it and, as with the general public, there are some people that choose not to take it,” de Villiers said.
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Read more: Seniors living independently feel ‘forgotten’ as others prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines

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.

Click to play video: 'As B.C. bends the curve, Interior case counts remain high' As B.C. bends the curve, Interior case counts remain high
As B.C. bends the curve, Interior case counts remain high – Jan 20, 2021

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