Dr.Bonnie Henry says vaccines are making an impact on COVID-19 case counts in BC.
Between July 30 to August 26, fully vaccinated individuals accounted for 15% of cases and 13% of hospitalizations in the province.
“To put this the other way around 70% of our cases are in the less than 25% of the population that is not immunized,” she explained.
The crude hospitalization rate, meaning the rate considered without taking age into account, among the unvaccinated population is 17 times higher than among the fully vaccinated.
“When we look at cases the vast majority of them are in unimmunized young people, primarily the 20-40 year age group, and that is reflected in the hospitalizations tend to be a little bit older but we are still seeing hospitalizations rates in people who are their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, and sadly we’ve had a number of deaths in that age group as well,” she added.
While breakthrough cases among vaccinated residents do occur, they tend to have more of a serious impact on older people who do not have the capacity to fight the illness.
Meanwhile, the crude case rate among the unvaccinated is about 10 times higher than among the fully vaccinated population.
“This type of data is what has led us to say we are now in a pandemic of the unvaccinated, that is where we’re seeing cases take off and hospitalizations,” Henry noted.
She explained that while the number of cases identified among the fully vaccinated population is going up slightly, but the rates of hospitalizations isn’t following suit.
“We’re now seeing a separation of how the pandemic is affecting people based on their immunization status,” Henry stated.
When it comes to cases by local health areas, Henry says cases continue to be higher in areas with a higher rate of unvaccinated residents.
“If we look at Northern Health, we are continuing to see higher rates in the Peace area, particularly in Fort Nelson and Prince George and Prince George is a little bit worrisome as it has been increasing in the past week,” she said.
Between August 15 to 21, the Prince George Local Health Area saw 62 new cases while Nechako saw 41 during this time frame, many of these cases are being attributed to worksite outbreaks in the region.
In terms of age, Henry says the 40-50 and 60-79 age groups are making up the bulk of BC’s hospitalizations.
“Deaths continue to occur in people who are older, particularly in people who are over 90, and we know that many of them are double vaccinated, so while it accounts for about 40% of the deaths, the majority of them live in long term care. And when unvaccinated people bring the virus into those high-risk settings we know that even though they might not get particularly ill with it, we know that older people can still succumb to COVID-19,” she said.
Henry reiterated that elderly vaccinated residents can still pass away from the virus because they often can’t fight it.
In the last two months, 14 people under the age of 19 have been hospitalized, three of them were sent to ICU but all of them have recovered.
Two children under age two have died of COVID-19 in BC, while there have been no deaths reported in the teenagers.
The province will be working with school boards across BC to ensure eligible BC students will have plenty of opportunities to be vaccinated during the upcoming school year.