COVID-19 update: Hospitalizations reach 5-month high as B.C. expands vaccine booster access
The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in British Columbia has reached a five-month high, the province revealed shortly after announcing expanded access to vaccine booster shots.
There are 390 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 155 in intensive care, according to Tuesday's update from the Ministry of Health. That's the highest number of hospitalizations since May 13, when there were 413 coronavirus patients in treatment.
The government also announced another 457 cases of COVID-19 and two related deaths, leaving the province's seven-day average for infections at 591 per day and the seven-day average for fatalities at 6.43 per day. Both numbers have been trending downward in recent days.
Once again, Northern Health recorded the highest number of infections per capita. The latest cases were distributed as follows:
- Northern Health – 82 cases, a rate of 28.8 per 100,000 population
- Interior Health – 83 cases, a rate of 10 per 100,000 population
- Fraser Health – 176 cases, a rate of 9.2 per 100,000 population
- Island Health – 55 cases, a rate of 6.4 per 100,000 population
- Vancouver Coastal Health – 61 cases, a rate of 5.1 per 100,000 population
Another 591 people recovered from COVID-19 as well, according to the ministry, pushing the province's active caseload to 4,829, down from 4,966 on Monday.
Tuesday's update once again shows the majority of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU visits involve the unvaccinated. Approximately 86 per cent of ICU patients haven't received a single dose of vaccine, according to a table shared by Health Minister Adrian Dix on Twitter, including 41 of the 42 patients who are under the age of 50.
Just under 90 per cent of eligible B.C. residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, and nearly 85 per cent have received two.
Earlier on Tuesday, Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed the province is offering booster shots to several vulnerable groups before the end of the year, and expanding access to the broader population beginning in January.
Officials previously decided to provide third shots to some seniors in care, whose bodies are said to have developed weaker antibody responses following vaccination, leading to a new wave of outbreaks in those settings.
There are currently 28 active outbreaks across B.C.'s health-care system, according to the ministry, including 23 in long-term care homes and assisted living facilities.
Henry said emerging data indicates that immunity wanes over time with the general population as well, but that a booster could offer long-lasting protection. She stressed that a third shot shouldn't be necessary for the general population during this winter respiratory season, however.
"Most of us have good, strong protection and we don't need a booster dose right now, but come next spring it is something we should consider," she said.