Local COVID vaccination rate inching up

Northern Health continues to hold clinics

vaccine

Slow but steady progress is being made in Houston and area when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination rates.

For the week ending Oct. 12, 75 per cent of the population age 12 and over has received one dose with 65 per cent having now received a second dose.

For both categories that’s a 1 per cent change from the week ending Oct. 5, a rate that’s been consistent since Northern Health began releasing vaccination statistics.

For young people from the age of 12 to 17 specifically, the first dose rate is 57 per cent for the week ending Oct. 12 and 45 per cent for a second dose. For both, that’s a 1 per cent change from the week previous.

The latest weekly release comes as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued public health orders affecting liquor sales and private gatherings as of Oct. 14 for the area of northern B.C. beginning at Kitwanga and extending east through Prince George to Valemount, south to the Cariboo and north to the Peace River region.

That follows low vaccination rates combined with high hospitalization rates and deaths.

In the Village of Burns Lake, the vaccination rate is 80 per cent for a first dose and 70 per cent for a second dose but only 63 per cent for a first dose south of Burns Lake and 58 per cent for a second dose. North of Burns Lake the first dose rate is 73 per cent and 67 per cent for a second dose.

For young people from 12 to 17, the Village of Burns Lake first dose rate is 63 per cent and 46 per cent for a second dose compared to 31 per cent for a first dose and 27 per cent for a second dose south of Burns Lake and 48 per cent for a first dose and 39 per cent for a second dose north of Burns Lake.

For all of northern B.C., 78 per cent of the population age 12 and over have received at least one dose and 69 per cent have received two doses.

Northern Health continues to hold vaccination clinics at the Coast Mountain College building Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for booked appointments and drop ins and on Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for drop ins.

New restrictions on liquor sales and private gatherings are taking effect at midnight tonight for part of B.C.’s Northern Health region east of Kitwanga on Highway 16, due to high rates of COVID-19 transmission.

“These changes will apply to the entire Northern Health region, with the exception of the local health areas west of Kitwanga, including Terrace, Kitimat, Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Stikine, Telegraph, Snow Country and Nisga’a,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Oct. 14.

The Peace and Prince George regions have been particularly hard hit, with hospitals moving intensive care patients to southern hospitals on southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Northern Health extends to Quesnel to the south and Valemount near the Alberta border.

Henry said bars and night clubs in affected areas of Northern Health will be closed, and restaurants that use B.C.’s vaccine card for access must stop alcohol sales at 10 p.m. Religious services in the affected area are also to be virtual only.

The order is in effect until at least Friday, Nov. 19. Personal gatherings are restricted to 25 or fewer people who are fully vaccinated, and those who have an unvaccinated person in their household are required to stay within their households.

Henry said northwest communities west of Smithers and Kitwanga have higher vaccination rates and are not seeing severe illness associated with the delta variant of COVID-19.

“We are seeing hospitals and ICUs filling up with young, otherwise healthy individuals, who are struggling to breathe with COVID-19,” Henry said. “And many people, even if they have mild illness, are now having long-term effects.”