Bonnie Henry, Adrian Dix urge British Columbians to get vaccinated fast as medical system faces pressures

Urgent call to get the vax

UPDATE: 12:45 p.m.

Provincial authorities’ message to British Columbians was clear and urgent at Tuesday’s briefing: Get vaccinated, as soon as possible.

Top health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made a specific call to pregnant and breastfeeding individuals, or anyone planning on a pregnancy, to get immunized.

“As we know, COVID-19 doesn't discriminate. And sadly we are seeing hundreds of new cases every day,” Henry said.

“And I know from the visits that I've made to health care facilities and our ICU around the province that we have a number of young women pregnant, who are in ICU right now who are not vaccinated.”

She said research has shown that there is “no increased risk of complications” after immunization to pregnant individuals or their baby.

“Over 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the United States and the study very recently came out looking at outcomes, and no major side effects have been identified, and importantly, safety data shows that pregnant people have the same mostly mild side effects as everyone else, and there were no increased risks of pregnancy complications or neonatal outcomes when you're vaccinated,” Henry said.

“They do not affect fertility, there's no way that they can do that, but that is one of the common lies that is out there right now.”

Henry also addressed questions about immune response in people who have had COVID-19, and whether they require vaccines.

“Many people wonder if they need to be vaccinated and the short answer is yes … we know that the antibody levels after infection can be very varied,” Henry explained.

“Some people's immune response can be really overwhelmed by infection, even with a mild or moderate infection but particularly if you're hospitalized, and you may not develop that long-term immunity that protects you from reinfection as well. Some people have a milder illness and they may not stimulate the whole part of their immune system.”

Health Canada is in the process of reviewing the Pfizer Biontech vaccine for use on children aged six to 11 years old, with results of that review expected in the coming weeks.

“I think this will be really important especially as we're into the school year,” Henry said.

Minister of Health Adrian Dix added his voice urging vaccination.

“As of Sunday night, 156 people were in critical care in our province with COVID-19. 138 were unvaccinated,” Dix said.

“This is not a question of blaming people for being sick but we need people to understand the critical importance of vaccination.”

He explained the province has had to postpone non-urgent but medically-necessary scheduled surgeries in recent weeks to divert healthcare resources to ICUs and COVID response, including 176 such postponements in Interior Health between Sept. 12 and 18.

“It's not where we needed to be, these pressures experienced by our hospitals right now were preventable, and can still be reduced,” Dix said.

Additional contract tracer aids will soon be deployed to health regions province-wide, including 130 more to Interior Health.

“I continue to call on everyone to think of our health care workers, think of one another and get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Dix said.

“We’re down to 13.2 per cent of people unvaccinated, we simply have to continue to reduce those numbers … when you’re fully vaccinated, your chances of ending up in hospital or critical care are so dramatically lower than if you’re unvaccinated.”

ORIGINAL: 11: 30 a.m.

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer are offering an update on COVID-19 in the province.

Watch the livestream above.

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