Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)

Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

With COVID-19 case counts spiking in some smaller East Kootenay towns, expanding community vaccination programs similar to what is underway in the Columbia Valley following higher case counts is not under consideration, according to Interior Health officials.

Kimberley has tallied 30 COVID-19 cases between April 4-17, according to weekly data released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, however, transmission isn’t at the point yet where a community-wide vaccination program is necessary, according to Karen Bloemink, Vice President, Pandemic Response for Interior Health.

Bloemink said Interior Health is always watching COVID-19 activity in communities, noting that the health authority has a vaccination plan for each one in the event that high case counts suddenly saturate the area.

“It is a constant surveillance that is happening and we are not at that stage for this community,” Bloemink said.

In Kimberley’s case, the city saw two consecutive weeks of sharp increases at 13 and 17 cases respectively, after weeks of lower case counts.

As for what is causing Kimberley’s sudden increase in case counts, Dr. Albert de Villiers, the Chief Medical Officer for Interior Health, didn’t point to any one specific event or cause of community transmission.

“We don’t necessarily find out all the exact reasons, we don’t have the resources to go in and investigate every single community where every case came from, but we just know it is spreading in the community,” said Dr. de Villiers. “Like influenza in the regular season, it’s spreading through people connecting with other people and that’s why the public health orders and the recommendations are in place so we can actually prevent that.”

In the case of moving into the Columbia Valley and vaccinating everyone over 18 years of age, Dr. de Villiers said case counts in the Windermere region were the highest in the region, a key factor in the decision-making process.

Interior Health does have a community vaccination program for approximately 47 smaller, rural communities within the jurisdiction, as it makes more logistical sense to immunize everyone at once, rather than follow the age-based cohorts, Dr. de Villiers added.

“If we go in and do the age cohort and we do 10 people every time, it’s just not going to work. It’s just much more logistically practical to go in and do the whole community at one time,” he said.

“That’s one piece; the other piece is if a community has limited health care services, just a few cases might actually overwhelm them so they have a higher risk.”

AstraZeneca supplies dry up

All AstraZeneca vaccine doses that have been distributed to Interior Health have been administered, according to Bloemink.

Pharmacies in the Okanagan have been booking public appointments for people 40 years of age and older to immunize with AstraZeneca.

“The doses that Interior Health has received have all been administered,” Bloemink said. “We have had really really good uptake of the AstraZeneca vaccine that we did receive and when the time comes, we will be keen to receive more.”

During Thursday’s provincial COVID-19 update, Health Minister Adrian Dix said AstraZeneca 180,000 doses will be administered through the pharmacy network in most areas of the province. Additionally, Dix noted that 18,000 appointments have been booked through the community or neighbourhood hot spot program.

Dix said he expects all the province’s AstraZeneca supply to be used up in the coming week.

Through the lens of Interior Health, Bloemink says officials are constantly monitoring supply day-over-day and week-over-week to coordinate the logistics of vaccine distribution in conjunction with the provincial immunization programs.

While Health Canada has approved four vaccines — Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson — Pfizer currently has the most reliable delivery schedule well into July, as production increasing ramps up to larger volumes.

“What we want to make sure, as well as understood,” said Bloemink, “is that we are motivated to deliver the vaccine that we do have on hand, so that creates a little bit of very specific planning that needs to be done as well as a need for some flexibility and potentially some adjusting based on our delivery schedules and replenishment of vaccine supply.

“So we are working with the information we have and we are planning according to that, and we do have our clinics established looking forward based on the vaccine we know is coming into the system.”

Province to unveil travel restrictions Friday

The provincial government will announce a formal order on travel restrictions between health authorities on Friday.

Questions remain on how the orders will apply and how the orders will be enforced amid a broader conversation on the impact it will have on preventing COVID-19 transmission.

Enforcement of out of province travellers is one such matter that should be clarified once Solicitor General Mike Farnworth releases the order.

“We’ve always known that we’ve had imported cases from Southern Alberta specifically and if you look at the north, in Northern Health as well, they’ve had some imported cases into Dawson Creek and some of those areas as well,” said Dr. de Villiers. “We know it’s an issue. We have not seen a huge rush of cases or people starting outbreaks because of that but we are always concerned that we don’t want people to come share their disease from other provinces or other countries or other places.”

Travel should be restricted to essential reasons, he said.

“”Stay as close to home as possible. So that means if you can stay in your own community, do that,” Dr. de Villiers said. “If you have to travel a little bit outside of your community, do it safely. If you need to go from Fernie to Kamloops, do it for a very good reason and just essential travel.”



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Five-year-old Bayne Krause poses for a photo with his mom Marianne. Bayne’s shirt reads, ‘I have Cystic Fibrosis. Help keep me healthy, please social distance.’ Photo: Laurie Tritschler
West Kootenay mom promotes awareness of cystic fibrosis

Marianne Krause wants people to know what it’s like for her five-year-old son to live with CF

The higher elevation melt is getting underway as rivers such as Mark Creek in Kimberley are running faster. Paul Rodgers file
Snow packs down just below normal in East and West Kootenay

The West Kootenay in particular had below normal precipitation in April

Police are cautioning drivers to keep a sharp eye on the road after a Fruitvale man hit and killed an elk along Highway 2A near Trail. The driver was reported to be uninjured, though the car was significantly damaged. Photo: Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Heads up for wildlife warn police after crash with elk on West Kootenay highway

The accident happened in the early morning hours of April 30

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Interfor’s Castlegar mill is getting $35 million in upgrades. Photo by: John Boivin
Interfor to invest $35 million at Castlegar mill

Project will enhance productivity and competitiveness

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The real estate boom across the Okanagan has not felt a negative impact from the coronavirus impact on our national economy. (Contributed)
Booming year ahead, says Kootenay Association of Realtors

Strong real estate sales continue throughout Kootenays

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in B.C.

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Most Read