More than 100,000 Vancouver Island residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Island Health issued a press release Friday, March 27, “celebrating a historic milestone” as far as the number of residents who have received their first dose of vaccine.
The health authority says 13 per cent of the Island’s population and counting, or more than one in eight people, have now been immunized.
Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s chief medical health officer, said at a press conference that it’s “bittersweet” to reach the 100,000 doses milestone considering the way case numbers are climbing, but said the immunization program will help control the spread.
“We now have a fantastic opportunity to blunt it and we have been able to blunt it significantly in the most vulnerable population,” the doctor said. “Those 100,000 doses went into the arms of the people most at risk of the most dire consequences of COVID.”
Victoria Schmid, Island Health’s vice-president of pandemic planning, said the province’s acceleration of vaccination timelines has led to some juggling of schedules and staff, already stretched by testing, contract tracing, and immunization program registration, among other COVID-19 responses.
“One of the things we have been anticipating throughout this whole rollout is the need to be really flexible…” Schmid said. “It does require a little extra effort, but I have to say, the teams are just so excited to be able to get vaccine out the door sooner.”
Island Health noted that more than 11,500 of the 100,000 doses have been administered to members of about 50 First Nations communities in partnership with those First Nations and the First Nations Health Authority.
Close to 20,000 staff and residents of long-term care and assisted-living facilities have received a first dose after clinics were held at each of those 115 facilities on the Island. There have also been close to 5,000 vaccine doses administered to residents and staff of independent-living facilities and more than 4,000 to individuals in home care. More than 27,000 health-care workers prioritized under the province’s immunization plan have received vaccine protection, as well.
There have been clinics for seniors 80-plus on Gabriola, Denman, Hornby and Quadra Islands and in Tofino, Ucluelet, Port Alice, Port McNeill, Port Hardy and Sointula, and clinics for all adults in Port Renfrew, Sayward, Woss, Zeballos and Kyuquot.
Island Health’s call centre has booked more than 90,000 appointments. Starting at noon today, March 27, seniors aged 74 and over can start calling to book immunization appointments. Phone lines are open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days a week and seniors or someone calling on their behalf should call 1-833-348-4787.
Island Health noted it will begin administering second doses to people approximately 16 weeks after they received their first dose, and said those people will be contacted when it is time to schedule their booster.