North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

A majority of residents have had their first jab against COVID-19.

Interior Health reports that more than vaccination 365,000 doses have been administered, representing more than 50 per cent of the jurisdiction’s eligible population.

The health authority is still urging everyone eligible to register.

The province’s age-based cohort system will soon be open for registration by anyone over 18 years old, as officials urge younger populations now eligible to register and book their vaccination appointments.

“The obvious opportunity as we move into this next phase is to make a call out specifically to our younger age groups, those groups that are in the under-50 category and we know that those groups have been waiting for their turn as we’ve gone and focused on the older populations initially,” said Karen Bloemink, vice president, pandemic response for Interior Health.

With a significant provincial influx of Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines coming, Bloemink says health officials are hoping to maintain a two-week gap between an individual receiving the notice to book a vaccine appointment to actually getting immunized.

“We do want our percentage of people vaccinated to continue to go up,” Bloemink added. “We are very pleased with the progression that we’re achieving, over 50 per cent of our eligible population. It’s fantastic progress but it is going to be even better for us to get that percentage pushed up and that really is our goal now.”

READ MORE: B.C. tracks big dip in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

There were new 33 cases reported Friday, May 14 in the Interior Health.

The seven-day moving average continues to trend downward in region, with 488 active cases as of Friday. However, case rates across the provincial border in Alberta are over three times higher than that of British Columbia, based on a new weekly data set that was recently made publicly available.

That doesn’t necessarily translate into cross-border transmission in places such as the Elk Valley or Columbia Valley, according to Dr. Albert de Villiers, the Chief Medical Officer for Interior Health.

“We haven’t really seen outbreaks or clusters related to that specifically,” said Dr. de Villiers. “There might be very few individual cases that come through.”

Places such as Windermere and, more recently, Golden, are now being addressed through a high-transmission community vaccination program as cases spiked in recent weeks.

Based on the latest BC CDC data, Windermere is between 41-60 per cent vaccinated (of those 18 years of age or older) with a first dose, while Bloemink says community and business leaders in Golden are doing some “excellent encouragement” to urge locals to register and book a vaccine appointment.

READ MORE: B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

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