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COVID-19: Adults 18+ in Summerland, Rutland eligible for vaccine

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The Interior Health Authority (IHA) announced on Monday that all adults 18+ who live in Summerland or the Rutland neighbourhood of Kelowna are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The “whole community” expanded immunization rollout is due to lower vaccination rates and higher infections rates in those communities, health officials said.

“We look across the region on a frequent basis and if we see places that have got higher cases and potentially lower vaccine rates, we can make a choice at that point,” said Dr. Albert de Villiers, Interior Health’s chief medical health officer.

The community of Golden in southeastern B.C. is the other latest community to see everyone 18+ eligible for a vaccine.

Eligible residents 18+ will be required to show identification with an address, such as a driver’s licence.

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Read more: Summerland chamber boss says community remains vigilant amid high COVID-19 infection rate

British Columbians are encouraged to register online on the BC government’s Get Vaccinated website, and eligible people will be notified once they can book an appointment.

Postal codes will be utilized to determine who is eligible in specific communities.

De Villiers said the Summerland Curling Club and Penticton Trade and Convention Centre should be able to accommodate the influx of newly eligible Summerland adults.

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“I know lots of people from Summerland go there [Penticton] for their regular visits and for shopping and for work, so we want to make sure they can actually get there,” he said.
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Those 30+ are also eligible to receive an AstraZeneca vaccine at participating pharmacies with available supply. 

De Villiers said the Rutland neighborhood has one of the lowest immunization rates in the region and ranks among the highest infection rates.

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In Summerland, the vaccination rate is approximately 50 per cent.

The latest data from the BC Centre for Disease Control shows 28 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Summerland identified between April 25 to May 1.

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Summerland recorded between 20.1 and 40 daily new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 from April 23-29. It was one of the worst infection rates in the B.C. Interior.

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De Villiers said the situation in the South Okanagan town is improving.

“The word got out that people should be more careful; we’ve actually seen the rate in the last few days come down. So it hasn’t stayed up, it hasn’t become worse.”

Read more: COVID-19: Okanagan sees slight increase in confirmed cases from week prior

He added that the virus is spreading mostly in households among close contacts.

“What we have seen is that there’s no specific place where there is an outbreak or a specific function that people went to, there isn’t anything like that. Probably about 60 per cent of the cases were just household spread,” he said.

“So it means somebody picked it up somewhere and brought it into the household and then infected other people in their household.”

To learn more about the vaccine rollout plan in the B.C. Interior, visit Interior Health’s website.

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