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

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

Staff and residents from RMV show their appreciation for the volunteers who enrich their lives. From left to right: Shelley Moulton, Darlene Hutchinson, Betty Schanni, Mark Hudock, Victor Myette, Elinor Siska, Melissa Roger, Anita Braconnier. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
‘We can’t wait for you to come back’: Rocky Mountain Village residents show appreciation for volunteers

Volunteers can’t make in-person visits, but that hasn’t stopped them staying in touch

Members of the community garden hosted their first seed swap and fundraiser at the Greenwood Mall in Sparwood on Monday. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Sparwood Community Garden hosts first seed swap

Work on the garden at Engelmann Spruce Drive will begin soon

Crews and volunteers responded to a four-hectare wildfire on the lower half of the Aqam community lands near Cranbrook on Friday afternoon. Trevor Crawley photo.
Wildfire season gets early start in the East Kootenay

Fire crews, volunteers respond to two local wildfires, while prescribed burns turn weekend skies smoky

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Kimberley's Steve Tersmette has published Waterfall Hikes In Southern British Columbia, documenting 100 of the areas waterfalls.
Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read