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North Okanagan politicians speak out about low COVID-19 vaccine rates

Click to play video: 'North Okanagan politicians in areas with low vaccine rates urge constituents to get the jab' North Okanagan politicians in areas with low vaccine rates urge constituents to get the jab
WATCH: A group of North Okanagan politicians is speaking out about the low COVID-19 vaccination rates in their communities. They are urging their continuants to get vaccinated. As Megan Turcato reports, some are concerned about the consequences if the numbers don't improve – Aug 24, 2021

A group of North Okanagan politicians is speaking out about the low COVID-19 vaccination rates in their communities.

They are urging their constituents to get vaccinated.

“If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for everybody else,” said Denis Delisle, the electoral area director for the rural Enderby area.

“We are still getting people dying [from COVID-19] more so and it is growing. From an economic point of view, you are destroying us. Our businesses are already on their knees just because you won’t go and get a shot.”
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In the latest data, Enderby has the lowest two-dose vaccination rate for those 12 and over in the Interior.

Only 54 per cent of eligible people in the Enderby local health area had two doses as of August 17.

Read more: B.C. reports 641 new COVID-19 cases as the province reintroduces mandatory mask policy

The Armstrong and Spallumcheen region is also near the bottom of the 31 local health areas in Interior Health.

Sixty per cent of those eligible in the Armstrong and Spallumcheen areas were fully vaccinated as of August 17.

In contrast, Revelstoke had the highest vaccine rate in the Interior with 76 per cent of those 12 and over fully vaccinated.

“We as a group of leaders in the North Okanagan have to do something about it to get our vaccination rate up because there are so many consequences going forward [of low vaccine rates] that are going to cause problems for our community,” said Chris Pieper, the mayor of Armstrong.
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Pieper pointed out the vaccination rates are particularly poor amongst adults under the age of 50.

In Enderby, 35 per cent of those aged 18-49 were fully vaccinated by Aug. 17.

In Armstrong and Spallumcheen, that number was 42 per cent.

Meanwhile, 73 per cent of adults aged 18 to 49 in Revelstoke had two doses by Aug. 17.

Exactly why the vaccine uptake has been low has some politicians scratching their heads.

“Everyone I talk to doesn’t know why. Everybody is a neighbour there. It is a really friendly community,” said Delisle.

However, Christine Fraser, the mayor of Spallumcheen, believes her area’s major industry might provide some explanation.

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“I think [it is] because we have a lot of people farming in our community. A lot of our farming community maybe hasn’t the chance to get out yet to be vaccinated; it is their prime season,” said Fraser.

“We just encourage everybody, when you do have a little bit of downtime, to make sure you get in, go to the clinics, get vaccinated if you are able to.”

Read more: Sask. COVID-19 cases point to less spread among fully-vaccinated, possibility of boosters: experts

Fraser’s confident the numbers will go up, but others are concerned about what might happen if North Okanagan vaccine rates don’t increase.

“We will see more sick people. We will see more families impacted,” cautioned Delisle.

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