Vancouver Island adds 55 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths
British Columbia health officials are reporting 55 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Tuesday.
Across the province, 457 cases were identified over the past 24 hours, including the cases found in the island region.
There are currently 4,829 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., including 579 active cases in the Island Health region, according to the B.C. ministry of health.
Island Health data identified the locations of 451 active cases Tuesday, including 145 in the South Island, 259 in the Central Island and 47 in the North Island.
Over the past 24 hours, two people died of COVID-19 in British Columbia, according to the health ministry. One death was reported in the Fraser Health region and one occurred in the Northern Health region.
Since the pandemic began, 2,131 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C., including 89 deaths reported in the Island Health region.
B.C. WILL OFFER 3RD VACCINE DOSE
Earlier Tuesday, health officials announced that all British Columbians will be offered a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine if they would like one.
The booster shots will be offered to select populations first, similar to how the first doses of vaccine were rolled out late last year.
Between now and December, third doses will be offered to clinically extremely vulnerable people who are immunosuppressed, residents in long-term care, and residents in rural and remote Indigenous communities.
The rollout is already underway for extremely vulnerable people, health officials say.
Soon after, the booster shots will be offered to all seniors aged 70 and older, as well as Indigenous people aged 12 and older.
Health-care workers who received their two doses of vaccine in a short interval, and staff who support long-term care homes and seniors in independent living will also be offered shots before the end of the year, approximately.
Between January and May, health officials will begin offering vaccine to the rest of the broader community, first by starting with clinically extremely vulnerable people who are not immunosuppressed, health-care workers in the community and lastly all remaining eligible British Columbians aged 12 and older.
Health officials say the booster shot will help extend the protection vaccines give, which begins to drop off around seven to eight months after someone receives their second dose.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry noted that the vaccine effectiveness declines over time, and does not "drop off a cliff" once seven to eight months has passed.
Tuesday also marks the province’s deadline for health workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The provincial health order covers doctors, nurses, residents, contractors, students, volunteers and all other health-care professionals.
Premier John Horgan says he's hopeful that the small number of workers who are resistant to getting vaccinated will get the information they need to get their shots.
Those who don't have their first dose of vaccine by the deadline can't work unless they have a recognized exemption.
As of Tuesday, approximately 89.6 per cent of eligible British Columbians have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 84.5 per cent have received two doses.
Since December 2020, the province has administered 8,171,136 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.