Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks with Minister of Health Adrian Dix at the Victoria Conference Centre vaccination site to promote walk-in Wednesdays, an effort by the province to encourage those needing a first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during a site tour in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, August 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks with Minister of Health Adrian Dix at the Victoria Conference Centre vaccination site to promote walk-in Wednesdays, an effort by the province to encourage those needing a first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during a site tour in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, August 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

IH reports increasing COVID-19 cases, Kootenays report erratic numbers

Interior Health is hosting four pop-up vaccine clinics in the Fernie area through August

While the Okanagan is currently where the lion’s share of new COVID-19 cases identified in Interior Health (and the highest numbers in all of B.C.) according to the most recent data from the government, Local Health Areas in the Kootenays and surrounds have been reporting relatively high numbers as well.

For the last week of July (25-31), Interior Health reported 38 and 18 new cases respectively in the Nelson and Castlegar LHAs, while Cranbrook reported 16 cases and the Fernie LHA (covering the Elk Valley and South Country) saw 3.

Fernie has been relatively untouched by the most recent increase in cases provincially, having spent most weeks with single digit cases (and one week with zero) for the last two months besides a two-week spike of 33 new cases in late June, but neighbouring and nearby LHAs are all over the place.

Castlegar spiked at 29 two weeks ago, Grand Forks hit 21 in early July and Windermere reached 21 in mid-June.

In response to erratic numbers (and the spike in the Central Okanagan), B.C.’s health minister Adrian Dix reiterated a plea for British Columbians to get vaccinated, saying that despite encouraging uptake of the vaccine, there was still hesitancy.

“I know there are some people who are opposed to the vaccine out there, and I don’t think — especially those who express that publicly — I don’t think we’re necessarily going to convince them, but we need to get everybody else,” he said to Black Press Media.

“I don’t take the approach of criticizing people whether they’re vaccinated, I’m taking the approach of giving them more opportunity to get vaccinated and making the powerful case — and there’s a powerful case — for people to get vaccinated.”

Vaccination rates within the Fernie LHA are average for the Kootenays, with 62 percent of all residents over 12 years of age having received their second dose as of the BCCDC’s August 2 data.

The Cranbrook LHA reports the same number (62 percent), while Kimberley is higher at 67 percent, and topping the region for vaccines are Golden and Windermere, which are both at 71 percent. Creston is the lowest, at 53 percent, while further afield, Nelson is also lower at 57 percent.

Looking at more granular data, Fernie LHA residents over 50 are well ahead, with 77 percent of all residents in that age bracket fully vaccinated, while 54 percent of residents between 18 and 49 are fully vaccinated.

Interior Health will be hosting four pop-up vaccine clinics in the Fernie area to encourage further vaccination uptake.

Residents of the Fernie area can walk up, register and receive either their first or second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinics, which will be opening through August.

The four clinic locations and times are as such:

August 6 – Downtown by the Art Station, Fernie, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

August 14 – 5500 Village Loop Rd, Tobacco Plains, Grasmere, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

August 21 – 468 Jaffray Baynes Lake Road, Baynes Lake (Baynes Lake Market), 9:00 am – 12:30 pm

August 28 – 468 Jaffray Baynes Lake Road, Baynes Lake (Baynes Lake Market), 9:00 am – 12:30 pm

READ MORE: Health minister urges vaccination as COVID-19 cases rise in B.C. Interior



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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