VANCOUVER -- An outbreak continues to grow at Kelowna's Cottonwoods Care Centre as 23 people have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Three staff members and 20 residents have so far tested positive at the facility where vaccines had already been offered. It's believed the outbreak started in a short-stay unit, where people may be placed between time in hospital and long-term care. 

Last week, Interior Health revealed roughly 65 per cent of staff at the care centre had received a shot, leaving about 35 per cent of staff unvaccinated, despite the rollout starting at the facility in December.

The health authority did not share how many workers at the facility may have refused the vaccine, or for what reasons.

Roughly 82 per cent of residents at the large facility had received a vaccine by Feb. 15.

When the outbreak was announced last week, Dr. Bonnie Henry said it served as a reminder that vaccines won't stop all transmission, but will help prevent serious illness and death. 

"We need to be mindful right now when we still have high levels of transmission in our communities, how important it is to continue those precautions particularly with older people and in care homes," she said at the time.

Interior Health conducted broad surveillance testing last week on residents and employees who had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic.

The health authority says this is part of ongoing measures to control the spread of the virus and that the latest cases don't represent a single-day spike, but an increase over time since a previous report. 

"Finding additional cases is not unexpected as we are conducting surveillance testing of residents and staff as part of the outbreak measures to ensure we limit the spread of COVID-19," said Dr. Albert de Villiers, Interior Health's chief medical officer, in a news release.

"Vaccines remain an effective tool for fighting the pandemic and I encourage everyone to book an appointment when they are eligible."

Interior Health also says efforts to boost vaccination rates at Cottonwoods are ongoing, despite the current outbreak.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Sheila Scott