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B.C. to hopefully start offering COVID vaccines for children in early November

Click to play video: 'B.C. child vaccination planning underway' B.C. child vaccination planning underway
We're learning more about the B.C. government's plan to quickly vaccinate kids aged 5 to 11 as soon as Health Canada approves the COVID-19 vaccine for children. Richard Zussman reports – Oct 12, 2021

Health officials in British Columbia provided an update Tuesday on the COVID-19 crisis in the province.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said parents can now register their children, ages five to 11, to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, once it is approved by Health Canada.

She said the province is looking at early November to be able to provide vaccines for that age group.

Click to play video: 'Where will B.C. children be vaccinated, how will health officials prioritize who gets their vaccine first?' Where will B.C. children be vaccinated, how will health officials prioritize who gets their vaccine first?
Where will B.C. children be vaccinated, how will health officials prioritize who gets their vaccine first? – Oct 12, 2021

Eligibility could be based on children in high-risk communities and families with multiple children who can get vaccinated together.

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Henry also said she is officially changing the indoor public mask mandate to include everyone ages five and up. It includes malls, shopping, grocery stores, libraries, community centres, pubs and bars as well as workplaces where people interact with larger parts of the public.

Read more: B.C. to change indoor public mask mandate to ages five and up

The revised mandate aligns with the COVID mask mandate in schools, which requires everyone from kindergarten and above to wear a mask indoors.

The situation in B.C.’s north continues to be a concern for health officials.

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Click to play video: '55 ICU patients have now been transferred out of Northern Health as COVID crisis worsens' 55 ICU patients have now been transferred out of Northern Health as COVID crisis worsens
55 ICU patients have now been transferred out of Northern Health as COVID crisis worsens – Oct 12, 2021

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday that 55 people have now been transferred from Northern Health ICU to Vancouver Island, Coastal or Fraser Health regions.

Of those, 43 have tested positive for COVID-19 and 42 are not fully vaccinated, Dix added.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, 14 patients alone were flown from Northern B.C. to other regions.

“That’s how they spent their Thanksgiving weekend,” he said.

Read more: Care homes in B.C.’s Interior plan for possible staffing impact as vaccine deadline looms

Click to play video: 'B.C. to decide on COVID-19 event capacity changes by end of week' B.C. to decide on COVID-19 event capacity changes by end of week
B.C. to decide on COVID-19 event capacity changes by end of week – Oct 12, 2021

Long-term care homes and assisted living facilities staff must have at least one dose of a COVID vaccine Tuesday in order to maintain employment.

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Dix said Tuesday there are still 1,955 staff in long-term care who are not vaccinated at today’s deadline. That is about 5 per cent of the workforce.

However, Dix added these include casual staff that is not on the schedule at this time.

All B.C. health-care workers must be vaccinated by Oct. 26.

Read more: COVID-19: Vaccine registration open for B.C. kids 5+ but no timeline on approval

Staff at long-term care homes may be moved or reallocated to help with facilities that are facing staff shortages due to the vaccine requirements, Dix said.

Click to play video: 'Dr. Bonnie Henry’s safety advice for second pandemic Halloween' Dr. Bonnie Henry’s safety advice for second pandemic Halloween
Dr. Bonnie Henry’s safety advice for second pandemic Halloween – Oct 12, 2021

There are about four care homes in B.C. where fewer than 85 per cent of staff are vaccinated, but Dix did not provide any specifics on those care homes.

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On Friday, the province reported 743 new cases of COVID-19, along with five additional deaths.

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