A substantial COVID-19 outbreak at the Willingdon Care Centre is just one of the factors contributing to the growing number of older vaccinated British Columbians dying from the virus in the province.
In modelling data presented on Thursday, 82 fully vaccinated British Columbians died in October compared with 89 unvaccinated people and eight who were partially vaccinated.
In total, 179 people died of COVID in B.C. in October.
The data does not show any data around pre-existing health conditions. The concern is unvaccinated people are still passing the virus on to the older, vaccinated population.
A majority of those dying are 80 years of age and older, the province said. Of the vaccinated, 47 of the 82 deaths in October are in that age group. Among the unvaccinated group, 23 of the 89 deaths were 80-plus.
Nearly half of the vaccinated people hospitalized in October with COVID-19 in the 80-plus age range died from the virus.
“As we get older, our response to vaccination is not as strong,” B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday. “It is people around our seniors and elderly that need to be protected.”
She said it is not only residents of long-term care where they are seeing these breakthrough cases but also in community settings and in homes where many generations live together.
Henry said everyone should still take precautions through the respiratory season ahead, including wearing a mask, physical distancing, washing their hands and avoiding being around people who are not vaccinated.
Unvaccinated people made up 60 per cent of the new cases in the month and 72 per cent of the hospitalizations.
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British Columbia announced last week a booster shot program targeted at those 70 years of age and older. The province has already offered booster shots to everyone living in long term care and assisted living.
The virus continues to have fewer impacts on younger British Columbians. From Oct. 26 to Nov. 2 there were 902 new COVID-19 cases among children 0 to 17, the province said.
Of those, just three ended up in the hospital, two in ICU and no children died in the past week from COVID.
The long term overall modelling projects a continued surge in cases among those unvaccinated while showing cases among vaccinated individuals remaining steady.
B.C. has now hit a 90 per cent immunization rate of at least one dose for those eligible to get the shot.
In October, modelling numbers showed a stabilization in the COVID-19 situation with fewer new cases of the virus in the province.
However, the latest COVID-19 numbers in B.C. did show deaths are on the rise.
On Wednesday, B.C. recorded 430 new infections, with 137 people in intensive care.
Tragically, six more people died from complications of the virus, with the number of deaths increasing steadily each week.
Health Minister Adrian Dix pointed out that people are 40 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 if they are not vaccinated.
“The only thing I can say to people is: It’s time. Get vaccinated to support everyone else who needs public health care — your friends, family and community.”
Some 85.5 per cent of eligible British Columbians are now fully vaccinated.
According to data compiled by the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford, when it comes to Canada as a whole, eight per cent of residents remain unvaccinated.
A new poll from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute suggests unvaccinated Canadians’ top reasons for avoiding the vaccine are “personal freedom” and “health concerns.”
Canada is the 14th most vaccinated country in the world, but a third of those polled said the main reason they haven’t received a vaccination is that COVID-19 is not a “serious health threat.”
More to come.