The B.C. health ministry’s drop-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic program is carrying on into September as some large urban clinics wind down in areas that have delivered two doses to three quarters of people aged 12 and older.
The province’s vaxforbc website currently lists more than 120 drop-in clinics around the province, either operating or set up for dates in early September. Some are at locations set up for the mass vaccination by age that carried on through the summer, while others are in conjunction with community events or local businesses.
A clinic at the Penticton Farmers Market is set for Sept. 4, and one at Nelson Chamber of Commerce car show runs Sept. 10 and 11, while clinics at Coast Mountain College in Houston and at Kitimat General Hospital are providing shots for those 12 and up with booked appointments through the B.C. vaccine registration system.
The Cariboo and parts of the Kootenay and Boundary regions have dealt with wildfires and evacuations that have hampered operation of clinics, while areas in the northwest such as the rural Vanderhoof area have remained below 50 per cent of first dose acceptance until recently.
Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have emphasized that with a surge in cases caused by the more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, testing has shown that more than four out of five new cases in August have been among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people.
Similar statistics emerge for people hospitalized with COVID-19, although those numbers are greatly diminished from the earlier surge that saw more than 500 B.C. residents in hospital in the spring of 2021 when daily new cases first topped 1,000. That rate is nearing again, with more than 800 new cases reported on Friday, Aug. 27.
“To put it in context, we have a rate of about 28 per 100,000 cases in people who are unvaccinated compared to two per 100,000 in people who are fully vaccinated,” Henry said Aug. 23 as she announced a new B.C. vaccine card program to take effect Sept. 13. “Unvaccinated people are at a more than 10 times higher risk than vaccinated people. When you are vaccinated, it means you are less likely to get infected. If you are infected, you shed virus for a shorter period of time. You’re less likely to transmit it to other people, and you’re much less likely to have a severe illness that leads to hospitalization.”
The B.C. vaccine card will be required for entry to restaurants, bars, casinos, ticketed indoor sporting events and other non-essential gatherings. Starting Sept. 13 it will be required to show at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, moving to two doses in late October. The province has reported a significant increase in vaccination registration and booking since the announcement.