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Between 2% and 16% of Okanagan children have received vaccine after first week of rollout

Nala Larson, 6, holds onto her father, Scott, as she receives her first inoculation in the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Convention Centre in Winnipeg, Thursday, November 25, 2021. Manitoba opened up COVID-19 vaccinations to children 5-11. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

In the week after COVID-19 vaccines were made accessible to B.C. children between the ages of five and 10 years old, uptake was uneven.

The BC Centre for Disease Control publishes maps highlighting vaccination rates and it shows that the Central Okanagan has seen nine per cent of children ages five to 11 roll up their sleeves for a shot as of Dec. 9.

Uptake, however, varies based on neighbourhood. Kelowna’s mission, for example, has a 16 per cent vaccination rate for children five to 10 , while Glenmore is at 11 per cent.

Around seven per cent of young children in downtown Kelowna have received their first vaccine, and that is also the case with the area described as rural Central Okanagan, which includes areas such as Joe Rich and Peachland.

Read more: Omicron’s community transmission could ‘rapidly escalate’ in coming days, Tam warns

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Lake Country has the lowest proportion of children vaccinated within the Central Okanagan, with five per cent having had one shot.

That matches the North Okanagan as a whole.

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Five per cent of children ages five to 11 in Vernon/Coldstream have received their first shot, three per cent in Lumby and two per cent in Enderby.

Salmon Arm currently has a five per cent vaccination rate with one dose, while the North Okanagan /Lumby area has three per cent, Enderby has two per cent and Salmon Arm has a rate of five per cent.

The South Okanagan has higher rates of immunization with 11 per cent of Summerland children reportedly having one shot, 13 per cent of Penticton children and 12 per cent of Keremeos kids, while rural South Okanagan has a nine per cent vaccination rate.

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Why the rates are uneven remains to be seen. Vaccine clinics have been open across the valley, though larger areas may have more access.

READ MORE: Health Canada approves Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11

The pediatric Pfizer dose that children five to 11 are receiving is one-third of an adult dose and Health Canada approved it on Nov. 19.

B.C. was the last province to start administering it because of distribution challenges linked to the recent flooding and distances to various corners of the province.

According to the provincial government, there are 349,000 B.C. children eligible for the vaccine.

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Rates for Okanagan residents ages 12 and older with at least one vaccination also vary by neighbourhood. The latest data on that age group shows that vaccination rates have quite a range, the highest being 93 per cent having received one dose in Glenmore to only 73 per cent of Enderby residents having had one dose.

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According to chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, latest COVID-19 projections, which she unveiled on Friday, show that Canada is currently seeing a Delta variant-driven resurgence of cases.

However, if infections keep rising and Omicron takes hold, that variant could outpace Delta and drive infections up to 26,600 a day by mid-January.

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