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B.C. health officials urge vaccination ahead of the holidays

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Health officials in B.C. are again appealing to people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza before they gather with friends and family over the holidays.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry held a news conference Monday to provide an update on respiratory illness season.

While COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped since the immunization campaign began two months ago, cases of the flu and RSV are on the rise.

"We encourage those who have not received it yet to book their immunization appointment now. It’s easy, convenient and free to get immunized in B.C.," Dix said in a news release.

"We can all do our part to support each other and the health-care workers who are working hard to keep our communities healthy and safe during the holiday season.”

So far, 1,443,752 doses of the influenza vaccine have been administered and 1,289,849 people have had an updated COVID-19 shot.

British Columbia, according to Dix, leads the country in vaccination rates. However, only about a third of the 4.4 million people who have been invited to book an appointment have actually received their shot.

Dix and Henry emphasized that ample appointment slots are available and that the province has enough supply to meet demand – even if it ramps up significantly.

In addition to getting vaccinated, Dix and Henry urged people to take other precautionary measures over the holiday season to protect those who are most vulnerable to serious illness – including infants, the elderly and people who are immune-compromised.

“This means staying home if you’re sick, frequently cleaning your hands, and following proper respiratory etiquette, such as covering your coughs and wearing a mask when appropriate,” Henry said in a news release.

"This is critically important if you’re gathering with friends and loved ones who may be at risk of more severe illness." 

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