Graph tracks infections of long-term care home residents after they get their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, Dec. 15, 2020 to Feb. 15, 2021. Infections fell off sharply after three weeks. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

Graph tracks infections of long-term care home residents after they get their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, Dec. 15, 2020 to Feb. 15, 2021. Infections fell off sharply after three weeks. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

COVID-19 vaccine protects health staff, seniors best after three weeks

B.C. data show new infections dropped rapidly after first jab

There was a brief wave of worry in B.C. this week when provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported that a COVID-19 outbreak at a Kelowna senior care home included new infections in people who have been vaccinated twice.

While seniors and their caregivers aren’t perfectly protected by vaccination, the effect has been dramatic since nurses, care aides and long-term care home residents reached three weeks after receiving their first doses. Data released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control Thursday tracked new infections of all B.C. health care workers, and also residents of long-term care, assisted living and independent living facilities.

From Dec. 15, 2020 to Feb. 15, 2021, there were 203 coronavirus cases confirmed in long-term care homes, and 89 per cent of them occurred in the first 21 days after the vaccine was administered. After immune systems have three weeks to adjust to the vaccine, new infections all but disappear.

A similar trend is seen in data from health care workers over the same period. With employees subject to the risk of community exposure as well as at work, there were 346 new cases from Dec. 15 to Feb. 15 among B.C. health care workers. Again, 86 per cent of those infections occurred before each staffer reached 21 days with vaccine in their system, dropping to almost none afterward.

RELATED: Kelowna care home outbreak includes vaccinated people

RELATED: AstraZeneca vaccine safe, being used in B.C. this week

Henry said those results were key to her decision to extend the maximum time between shots up to four months. After some initial objections, federal health experts have endorsed the move.

“This work has allowed us to understand the protection that we get, even in situations like long-term care homes with our most vulnerable of seniors and elders, that we can have excellent protection from a single dose,” Henry said in presenting the latest modelling data March 11. “And that is what has supported us to be able to make that really important decision to extend the interval for second doses so that we can protect more people more quickly, and win that race that we are in right now.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

District of Clearwater meetings are open to the public. The meeting agendas and past meetings minutes can be viewed on the DOC's website. Every meeting has time allocated at the end for comments from the public.
District of Clearwater hires new chief adminstrative officer

The new CAO will arrive at the end of June.

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

Most Read