Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)

Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

With COVID-19 case counts spiking in some smaller East Kootenay towns, expanding community vaccination programs similar to what is underway in the Columbia Valley following higher case counts is not under consideration, according to Interior Health officials.

Kimberley has tallied 30 COVID-19 cases between April 4-17, according to weekly data released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, however, transmission isn’t at the point yet where a community-wide vaccination program is necessary, according to Karen Bloemink, Vice President, Pandemic Response for Interior Health.

Bloemink said Interior Health is always watching COVID-19 activity in communities, noting that the health authority has a vaccination plan for each one in the event that high case counts suddenly saturate the area.

“It is a constant surveillance that is happening and we are not at that stage for this community,” Bloemink said.

In Kimberley’s case, the city saw two consecutive weeks of sharp increases at 13 and 17 cases respectively, after weeks of lower case counts.

As for what is causing Kimberley’s sudden increase in case counts, Dr. Albert de Villiers, the Chief Medical Officer for Interior Health, didn’t point to any one specific event or cause of community transmission.

“We don’t necessarily find out all the exact reasons, we don’t have the resources to go in and investigate every single community where every case came from, but we just know it is spreading in the community,” said Dr. de Villiers. “Like influenza in the regular season, it’s spreading through people connecting with other people and that’s why the public health orders and the recommendations are in place so we can actually prevent that.”

In the case of moving into the Columbia Valley and vaccinating everyone over 18 years of age, Dr. de Villiers said case counts in the Windermere region were the highest in the region, a key factor in the decision-making process.

Interior Health does have a community vaccination program for approximately 47 smaller, rural communities within the jurisdiction, as it makes more logistical sense to immunize everyone at once, rather than follow the age-based cohorts, Dr. de Villiers added.

“If we go in and do the age cohort and we do 10 people every time, it’s just not going to work. It’s just much more logistically practical to go in and do the whole community at one time,” he said.

“That’s one piece; the other piece is if a community has limited health care services, just a few cases might actually overwhelm them so they have a higher risk.”

AstraZeneca supplies dry up

All AstraZeneca vaccine doses that have been distributed to Interior Health have been administered, according to Bloemink.

Pharmacies in the Okanagan have been booking public appointments for people 40 years of age and older to immunize with AstraZeneca.

“The doses that Interior Health has received have all been administered,” Bloemink said. “We have had really really good uptake of the AstraZeneca vaccine that we did receive and when the time comes, we will be keen to receive more.”

During Thursday’s provincial COVID-19 update, Health Minister Adrian Dix said AstraZeneca 180,000 doses will be administered through the pharmacy network in most areas of the province. Additionally, Dix noted that 18,000 appointments have been booked through the community or neighbourhood hot spot program.

Dix said he expects all the province’s AstraZeneca supply to be used up in the coming week.

Through the lens of Interior Health, Bloemink says officials are constantly monitoring supply day-over-day and week-over-week to coordinate the logistics of vaccine distribution in conjunction with the provincial immunization programs.

While Health Canada has approved four vaccines — Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson — Pfizer currently has the most reliable delivery schedule well into July, as production increasing ramps up to larger volumes.

“What we want to make sure, as well as understood,” said Bloemink, “is that we are motivated to deliver the vaccine that we do have on hand, so that creates a little bit of very specific planning that needs to be done as well as a need for some flexibility and potentially some adjusting based on our delivery schedules and replenishment of vaccine supply.

“So we are working with the information we have and we are planning according to that, and we do have our clinics established looking forward based on the vaccine we know is coming into the system.”

Province to unveil travel restrictions Friday

The provincial government will announce a formal order on travel restrictions between health authorities on Friday.

Questions remain on how the orders will apply and how the orders will be enforced amid a broader conversation on the impact it will have on preventing COVID-19 transmission.

Enforcement of out of province travellers is one such matter that should be clarified once Solicitor General Mike Farnworth releases the order.

“We’ve always known that we’ve had imported cases from Southern Alberta specifically and if you look at the north, in Northern Health as well, they’ve had some imported cases into Dawson Creek and some of those areas as well,” said Dr. de Villiers. “We know it’s an issue. We have not seen a huge rush of cases or people starting outbreaks because of that but we are always concerned that we don’t want people to come share their disease from other provinces or other countries or other places.”

Travel should be restricted to essential reasons, he said.

“”Stay as close to home as possible. So that means if you can stay in your own community, do that,” Dr. de Villiers said. “If you have to travel a little bit outside of your community, do it safely. If you need to go from Fernie to Kamloops, do it for a very good reason and just essential travel.”



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

(Jonathan Kempe / Unsplash)
The Quest: Part 2, Adrian

The Student Journal showcases the work of the local high schoolers.

File photo
Police respond to reports of suspicious visitors in Vavenby

Clearwater RCMP responded to 54 calls for service this past week.

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Most Read