COVID-19 cases disproportionately impacting Indigenous communities in B.C.
The fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on Indigenous communities, even though members were among the first to be vaccinated in B.C.
According to the First Nations Health Authority, 14 per cent of hospitalized patients are Indigenous, even though First Nations people make up just over three per cent of B.C.'s population.
"We are definitely seeing a differential impact right now," Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer of FNHA, told CTV News Vancouver.
McDonald says of the more than 5,000 active COVID-19 cases in B.C., 478 are in First Nations communities, which is about nine per cent. About a third of those people have been double vaccinated. Additionally, about 20 per cent of those receiving treatment in hospital are also double vaccinated.
Dr. Brian Conway, an infectious disease expert, says the reason double-vaccinated people keep ending up in hospital is because immunization rates aren't increasing quickly enough.
"I think we need to avoid the incorrect narrative that it is an indication that vaccines don't work," he said.
"In this era of the Delta variant and other variants that are coming, the virus enters the community through the unvaccinated. It's amplified in the unvaccinated; it is then secondarily transmitted to the vaccinated."
About 76 per cent of eligible First Nations people in B.C. have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and just over 64 per cent are fully vaccinated.
"Our best tool against this is vaccination, so I strongly encourage people to take advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated," McDonald said.