Members of homeless population receive COVID-19 vaccine after increase in cases

Homeless vaccinated

An increase in COVID-19 cases within the Kamloops homeless population prompted Interior Health to vaccinate those individuals earlier than scheduled.

IH chief medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers said the health authority has always had the ability to respond to specific clusters, outbreaks or increases within certain populations when required.

He said that was done in December when the province first received the vaccines and were faced with an outbreak at McKinney Place in Oliver.

"The same with the people associated with the (Mustard Seed) shelter in Kamloops," de Villiers told a media briefing Thursday.

"As soon as there was more activity, we went in and started to vaccinate people."

While an outbreak was not declared, officials within the shelter said they did notice an increase of COVID-19 within the city.

Dr. de Villiers said reaching the vulnerable population was more difficult because they don't necessarily stay there every day.

"We have been using our outreach nurses and other people to make sure we actually get to these people and get them vaccinated as soon as possible. they are a vulnerable population and sometimes do have other medical conditions as well," he said.

During the same media briefing, de Villiers cleared up some confusion as to why two people who recently died at Royal Inland Hospital were connected to the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility after the outbreak has been declared over.

He said outbreaks are declared when cases increase and there is a sustained spread within a specific community.

As soon as that changes, he said, the outbreak can be declared over because there is no longer sustained spread.

"By the time we call the outbreak over, there is no sustained transmission anymore, there is no high number of new cases happening every day, but there could be someone who got sick, deteriorated, ended up in ICU and passed away," he said.

"They were still connected to the outbreak, but the outbreak was not active anymore."

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