COVID-19 vaccinations in Houston have so far failed to hit the 50 per cent mark of those eligible, a level that’s below what’s considered necessary for community immunity.
As of April 16, the last day of the local community clinic for people over the age of 18, 1,605 people had been vaccinated, just over 47 per cent of those eligible, indicates information provided by the Northern Health Authority.
Approximately 50 other people were vaccinated earlier in the year when the emphasis was first on residents of care facilities and health care workers.
But at the 47 per cent mark, the provincial health ministry says that’s below the 65-70 per cent of eligible people who need to be immunized to reach the herd or community immunization level.
Herd or community immunity is defined as when a large enough portion of a population is resistant to a virus, infection rates drop and the virus peters out. While not every person may be immune, the whole population has protection.
The percentage of eligible people in Granisle receiving a vaccination was not available but Northern Health said 203 appointments were completed at that community’s clinic.
“Those who did not book into the local [Granisle] clinic, will be able to do so in the Burns Lake clinic, going forward. The Burns Lake North Community Health Services Area that includes Granisle has seen more than 49 per cent of residents receive at least one dose,” said Eryn Collins from Northern Health. That figure came at the conclusion of a period of community clinics in Burns Lake and does not include the nearly 70 people vaccinated at a follow up one-day clinic held April 22 in Burns Lake.
“While I’m unable to break that down any further into age groups or ethnicities – I can say that vaccine uptake is higher in older age groups and gradually declines, the younger the group; but that is consistent across the North, not unique to Houston or Burns Lake North,” she said.
As of late last week there was no immediate indication of when and where Houston and area residents can now receive a vaccination through Northern Health.
“In Houston, those who were unable to attend due to illness or otherwise, can call the health unit to have their name added to a waitlist for first dose appointments – additional clinic days will be determined based on demand and vaccine supply,” said Collins.
She also suggested people keep referring to the Northern Health COVID-19 information website to track new vaccine information as it becomes available.
“We’re encouraged by the uptake, thus far; but it’s important to keep in mind there will be immunization opportunities on an ongoing basis and so we continue to encourage people to register for and get their vaccine,” Collins continued.
If Northern Health vaccination options were not immediately available as of late last week, neither was another route, that being a vaccination at a pharmacy.
Two weeks ago the provincial government began releasing the AstraZeneca vaccine through pharmacies for people between the age of 55 and 65, later dropping the age to 40. It also sent supplies of that vaccine to 13 communities experiencing high rates of infection.
As of late last week there were 624 pharmacies offering AstraZeneca vaccine across the province. And as of April 21, more than 153,100 doses of AstraZeneca to people, primarily over the age of 55, had been provided through the pharmacies.
But that list did not include pharmacies in Houston, Burns Lake or Smithers and there is no indication yet of when these pharmacies might be supplied.
Along Hwy16, the vaccine was available at 12 Prince George pharmacies and three in Terrace.
“We can deliver vaccine at a rapid rate here in B.C. but are restricted based on the supply we receive from manufacturers and the federal government,” indicated a statement from the health ministry.
As of late last week provincial officials said the supply of AstraZeneca for B.C. had been committed and that there would be a temporary delay in shipments to Canada.
“The availability of the vaccine is continually changing and as we receive more supply, we’re able to add more pharmacies to our immunization program. We will continue to direct the vaccine where it is needed most.”
igure did not include a one-day