'None of the ICU cases in B.C. under 50 are fully vaccinated': health minister

Health Minister Adrian Dix said at Tuesday's press briefing that officials are seeing that all of the ICU cases of people under 50 are not fully vaccinated. He said approximately 144 people are in critical care and that the vast majority, some 121 patients, will be unvaccinated.

Minister of Health Adrian Dix said Tuesday 140 people who are sick with COVID-19 are now in intensive care around the province, and 121 of them, about 86 per cent, are not vaccinated.

A child under a year old was also recently admitted to the ICU with the virus but has since recovered and been released, he added. A tween (someone who is not yet a teenager) is also in the ICU.

“We don’t talk about the cases in general, but we provided information about all the different age categories,” Dix said, at a news conference where he announced $6.4 million to help recruit and retain health-care workers in northern B.C.

“None of our cases under 50 (years old) were fully vaccinated,” he said, adding that about 14 per cent of British Columbians remain unvaccinated as of Tuesday.

He continued: “We’ve had a very low rate of hospitalization amongst children and youth since the beginning of the pandemic. And that continues to be the case.”

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All B.C. health-care workers must be vaccinated against COVID by Oct. 26: officials

Dix’s comments came one day after the province announced all health-care workers must be immunized against COVID-19 to work in a health-care facility.

The new measure will come into effect on Oct. 26, and will apply to anyone working in acute, community and care.

A high percentage of health-care workers have been fully immunized so far, Dix said, adding that he expects all heath workers, especially those in long-term care and assisted living where hundreds of people have died because of the virus.

“Do not take that decision lightly,” he said of the mandate.

“There may be people who choose not to be vaccinated and won’t be able to be available for work. But that said, I don’t think that we can have a situation, given the seriousness of COVID-19 and its impact, where people are working without vaccination.”

Dix also made two big announcements at the press conference Tuesday.

The province is committing almost 6.5 million dollars in incentives to health-care workers to take jobs in the Northern Health region. That will include assistance with travel, housing and childcare, as well as access to 24/7 emergency physicians.
The province is also providing a boost to ambulance services in rural communities.

Dix said they will converting 24 ambulance stations in rural and remote communities from on-call paramedic staffing to 24/7 ambulance stations.

Communities benefiting from the enhanced ambulance service are Lake Cowichan, Port McNeill, Tofino, Cumberland, Bowser, Pemberton, Ashcroft, Barriere, Keremeos, Lillooet, Princeton, Sicamous, Clearwater, Revelstoke, Peachland, Fernie, Golden, Kimberley, Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Houston, Vanderhoof, Chetwynd and Fort Nelson.

In addition, 26 smaller stations moving to a scheduled on-call staffing model are getting more permanent, regular paramedic jobs, starting on Nov. 1, Dix said.

They are also hoping to hire 85 new full-time paramedics in Metro Vancouver, Abbotsford, Kamloops and Prince George, along with 30 new full-time dispatchers.


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Third COVID shot needed for severely immunocompromised people, B.C. officials say

In addition, about 15,000 people considered severely immunocompromised in B.C. will have started receiving an invitation to get a third shot of the vaccine.

“As a result of their medical condition, people who are immune-compromised have a reduced capacity to respond effectively to any vaccine,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie said on Monday.

“To these people, a third dose is needed to get that protection that the rest of us get from the regular dose schedule.”

It will be a requirement for all workers, physicians, contractors and volunteers, she added.

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