As British Columbia approaches a first dose vaccination rate of 90% and a second dose rate of 84%, Northern BC continues to have a much lower rate of 78% first dose and 69% second dose as of October 13. This low vaccination rate in the Northern Health region is resulting in higher incidences of severe COVID-19 cases, primarily among the unvaccinated, overwhelming our health care system and resulting in a new round of restrictions on our personal freedoms.
Last Thursday’s announcement of a new set of “circuit breaker” restrictions for the Northern Health region is directly correlated with the low vaccination rate in the north and the associated high rates of severe COVID-19 cases we’re experiencing.
Quesnel’s vaccination rate still sits far below the Provincial average, with a rate of only 79% first dose and 70% second among City residents and 73% first dose/64% second dose among the rural population. Like the rest of the North we’re seeing too many unvaccinated people getting severe COVID-19 symptoms in our area. Last week’s declared outbreak at GR Baker Hospital is a result of the overwhelming of this facility by unvaccinated people with significant to severe symptoms of COVID-19.
There are consequences to our failure to collectively trust the science and get vaccinated: consequences to our own health and the health of others, particularly the more vulnerable; consequences to the health of our economy; and, consequences to our ability to get back to some kind of normal in our lives.
We’re fortunate that other regions of the province have high rates of vaccination and can, as a result, assist us by taking care of both the overflow of COVID-19 patients from the North and other patients who need access to health care that Northern Health can no longer provide because of the stress COVID-19 patients are putting on the system here.
In fact, one of the starkest examples of the correlation between high vaccination rates and the lower incidence of COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalizations is actually in the North. Not included in last week’s northern circuit breaker restrictions is the area west of Kitwanga (including the communities of Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Haida Gwaii, and Nisga’a) where the vaccination rates are on par with or even higher than the rest of BC and where they, consequently, do not have the same kind of outbreaks we’re experiencing elsewhere in the North.
If we want to achieve the kind of “community immunity” that the area west of Kitwanga is experiencing, more people need to get vaccinated. If we want to protect the more vulnerable in our community, we need more people to get vaccinated. If you want our health care system to be capable of providing the full range of care for cancer and heart patients and if you want your family, friends, and neighbours with debilitating illnesses to be able to access the health care they require, then we need more people to get vaccinated.
If we don’t want to be restricted in our freedoms and want our economy and lifestyle to get “back to normal” -- we need more people to get vaccinated.
If you are simply procrastinating or are only vaccine hesitant, please make the time to get vaccinated this week. It’s the best way for us to get through this challenging time together.