“This is the path forward,” said B.C. health minister Adrian Dix. “And we have to continue to press and push every single day.”

Article content

As B.C. logged the highest number of new cases of COVID-19 in Canada on Thursday, its top health officials continued to emphasize a battle strategy focused on vaccination.

Advertisement

Article content

B.C. reported 402 new daily cases on Thursday, the most since May 21, during the waning part of the third wave. Most of them, 234, were in the Interior Health region. The number of active cases of COVID-19 rose to 2,066, the highest it has been since early June, at the start of B.C.’s fourth wave of infection. More than half, 1,121, were in Interior Health

The provincial health minister, Adrian Dix, and the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, emphasized B.C.’s vaccination strategy at a press conference Thursday.

Dix remained upbeat about the success of “Walk-in Wednesday,” calling the provincewide vaccination project, in which 6,130 people received their first dose, “better than Christmas” for a health minister facing a global pandemic.

Advertisement

Article content

Questioned about climbing case counts, the threat posed by variants and Quebec’s decision to provide vaccine passports, Dix and Henry maintained B.C.’s best shot of keeping the virus in check lies with a high provincial vaccination rate.

“This is the path forward,” said Dix. “And we have to continue to press and push every single day.”

Dix noted vaccination clinics across the province continue to accept drop-ins without an appointment for first doses.

“The effort yesterday will continue to be repeated day after day as we find different opportunities to reach people and give them the opportunity to be vaccinated,” he said. “As we see, significantly, cases among unvaccinated people in our province, the need to get vaccinated is stronger and stronger every day.”

Advertisement

Article content

A nurse prepares a vial of the COVID-19 vaccination on June 25 at a mobile immunization clinic in Creston.
A nurse prepares a vial of the COVID-19 vaccination on June 25 at a mobile immunization clinic in Creston. Photo by Kelsey Yates/Creston Valley Adva /PNG

Henry said B.C. is facing “a wave of cases” in the unvaccinated.

With 82.6 per cent of B.C. adults receiving their first dose of vaccine, B.C.’s vaccination rate is among the highest in the world, but a significant portion of the population, almost 900,000 people, remain unprotected from the virus.

To push vaccination numbers even higher, the provincial campaign must move from the “one-size-fits-all approach” of mass clinics to what a health communications expert, Heidi Tworek, calls “the granular phase.” That means identifying why some people haven’t got the shot and working strategically and laboriously to address barriers and hangups, said the history professor at the University of B.C.

Walk-in clinics might appeal to those who haven’t been able, or haven’t wanted to, make an appointment, while mobile clinics could improve access in remote areas where transportation is an issue, said Tworek. But reaching those who have questions might require even more effort, such as facilitating opportunities for one-on-one conversation with health experts or possibly giving family doctors the ability to administer a vaccine to willing patients immediately after speaking with them.

Advertisement

Article content

“We also need to be involving community groups and asking ‘Who needs to deliver this message?’ In some cases, it may not be health officials,” she said.

While positive messaging is generally more effective than fear-based messaging, it will be interesting to see if B.C. moves to another “tool in the tool box” by restricting some of the things people can do if they’re not vaccinated, such as working in some jobs or visiting certain businesses.

“Very careful discussion need to be had about that,” said Tworek. “We’re in a position to learn from the U.S. and other places that are trying that approach.”

When asked about Quebec’s approach and vaccine passports that might be used to bar some people from certain activities or places, Dix said vaccination remains the province’s priority, in addition to ensuring British Columbians can easily access their immunization records.

Advertisement

Article content

“You are not obliged to get vaccinated in B.C. or anywhere else in Canada,” he said. “There are consequences if you don’t, and I think everyone will have to understand that.”

Henry said the province was “looking at all options.”

On Wednesday, B.C. also had the highest number of new cases in Canada, with 342 compared to 139 in Ontario and 184 in Quebec. The province’s seven-day count was also slightly higher than both Ontario and Alberta, according to federal data.

Also Wednesday, 33,277 people were vaccinated, including many young people, pushing the province’s first-dose vaccination rate among adults to almost 83 per cent.

A pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Hart Mall in Prince George. The mobile clinic will be in different communities across Northern B.C. over the summer and has already been to numerous communities including Vanderhoof, Fort St. James, Fort Fraser, Fraser Lake and the Robson Valley, Mackenzie and Fort Nelson among others.
A pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Hart Mall in Prince George. The mobile clinic will be in different communities across Northern B.C. over the summer and has already been to numerous communities including Vanderhoof, Fort St. James, Fort Fraser, Fraser Lake and the Robson Valley, Mackenzie and Fort Nelson among others. PNG
A pop-up clinic at the Paul Lychak Hall in Smithers.
A pop-up clinic at the Paul Lychak Hall in Smithers. PNG

gluymes@postmedia.com

twitter.com/glendaluymes

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here