B.C. health officials say they are ramping up efforts over the next two weeks to vaccinate as many people as possible.
The increased effort includes walk-in Wednesday on Aug. 4 across the province with 20,000 shots available and no need to book ahead.
The province is also slightly reducing the interval between first and second doses, from eight weeks to seven weeks. British Columbians now must wait at least 49 days between COVID-19 shots.
Following the two-week blitz and with lower demand for shots, BC will shift the balance to fewer large mass clinics and greater use of public health clinics, outreach clinics, mobiles, and pop-ups.
Changes in clinic locations and size will occur through August and September.
In late August and September, there will be a major focus on young people returning to post-secondary institutions and schools.
As of Tuesday morning, there are 906,772 eligible people who have not received their first dose, 19.6 per cent of the 12 plus population.
Northern and Interior health continue to lag behind the other regions in the province. There is 32.5 per cent of the Northern health population unvaccinated and 26.2 per cent of the Interior health population.
The province provided numbers again showing less than 5 per cent of COVID-19 cases in B.C. are among fully vaccinated people.
From June 15 to July 15, just 68 people got sick seven days after receiving a second COVID vaccine dose.
During the same time period, 1,210 unvaccinated people got sick and 499 people who had received just one dose got sick.
Over the month recording period, 137 unvaccinated were hospitalized, 31 partially vaccinated went to the hospital with COVID, and eight fully vaccinated people were hospitalized.
“There is more work to do if we’re going to protect each other from the variants and put the pandemic behind us,” reads a presentation from the province on the vaccination plan.
On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada now has enough COVID vaccines to immunize every eligible person in the country.
Speaking from the vaccine clinic at the Moncton Coliseum in New Brunswick, Trudeau said the country has now received more than 66 million doses.
Currently, Canadians aged 12 and up are eligible for the vaccine. Those under 18 are only able to get Pfizer.
Elsewhere, there are more calls for Canada to implement a “centralized, Canada-wide approach” to be used to confirm vaccination status internationally and domestically.
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In a letter to Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan, Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman writes that without interprovincial harmonization, Canada risks making life unpredictable for individuals and employers during an “already uncertain time.”
“Implementing proof-of-immunization would both encourage more Canadians to get vaccinated and allow more businesses to safely reopen and remain open with the possibility of future outbreaks still uncertain,” Huberman said in a release on Monday.
Currently, B.C. is advising those who have not been fully immunized to wear masks indoors, while those who have had both shots are not required to do so. The challenge is there is no tool to publicly determine who has or has not been vaccinated.
Henry was also asked about Quebec offering a third dose of mRNA vaccine to help people whose vaccinations are not recognized if they want to travel.
Some places in the European Union and the United States are considering not allowing access to people who have mixed and matched vaccines or who have received AstraZeneca.
Health officials across the country are working on this and Henry described the situation as ‘very much in flux’.
“Right now we just need to be patient. We are working with Canada, and Canada is working internationally to make sure that we all adhere to the standard,” Henry said.
“What I would like to see is WHO-approved vaccines in any combination, and we are seeing that. We are not the only country that is using AstraZeneca. We are not the only people that are using mix and match schedules, whether that is Moderna/Pfizer or AstraZeneca/Moderna or Pfizer.”