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Vaccines providing better protection still available in B.C.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. Province of B.C. photo

Public health officials in British Columbia continue to encourage everyone to book an appointment to receive their free influenza and updated COVID-19 vaccines now to protect themselves against severe illness and hospitalization.

Based on the latest epidemiological data available from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), elevated Influenza A and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) activity continues throughout the province, at levels that are expected at this time of year prior to the pandemic. COVID-19 activity remains stable, generally decreasing since early November 2023, but with case counts on the rise at the end of December.

As of the last update from BCCDC (to Jan. 4, 2024), there were 219 patients in hospital with COVID-19, 26 of them in critical care.

“We are still in respiratory illness season,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, in a news release. “With people back to school and work after the holidays comes increased potential for transmission of illness. That is why we need to continue to practise healthy habits, doing our part to limit the potential spread of respiratory illnesses.”

Overall, emergency department visits for respiratory symptoms and visits to community health-care practitioners for respiratory symptoms have continued to increase in recent weeks.

The BCCDC recently reported three pediatric-influenza-related deaths in British Columbia. These were deaths in which influenza was a contributing factor, but not necessarily the primary cause of death.

“I’m deeply saddened by the pediatric-influenza-related deaths and my thoughts are with the children’s families and friends,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “As the new year begins and as we are at the peak of the respiratory illness season, our government continues to work hard to ensure that people get the health care they need when they need it across our province. We appreciate everyone for taking action to avoid getting sick. There are still lots of opportunities to get vaccinated and I encourage everyone to do so for the protection of their loved ones.”

This year’s respiratory illness immunization campaign was launched for the general population on Oct. 10, 2023. At the end of day on Jan. 9, 2024, B.C. had administered 1,519,606 doses of influenza vaccines and 1,390,508 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Even though B.C. has the highest vaccination rates in Canada, it is crucial that people continue to get immunized.

The Province continues to make it convenient for people to get immunized with influenza and COVID-19 vaccines available at approximately 600 pharmacies throughout the province, as well as many health-authority clinics and primary-care providers’ offices. Vaccines remain free and available for everyone six months and older, including enhanced influenza vaccines for seniors.

Vaccine appointments are available throughout the province. People who want a notification to book an appointment, or who are not yet registered, are encouraged to do so online:

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