COVID-19 vaccine strategy and timeline explained

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Message to the community from Dr. David Butcher, chief of staff, Lady Minto Hospital

As you will have heard on the news, vaccinations against COVID-19 are now underway in B.C., and that includes Salt Spring Island. 

Residents of our care facilities have received vaccinations and frontline health-care workers are currently being vaccinated. This offers us a ray of hope that we are starting to see the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The provincial government has laid out a strategy and timeline for vaccinations based on priority populations and risk groups with the dual aim of reducing the risk of community spread of the virus and ultimately providing immunity to all individuals who want to be vaccinated. Information on the provincial strategy for vaccine rollout, of which Island Health is a participant, can be found at http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine/bcs-plan-for-vaccine-distribution.

Please be advised that the COVID-19 vaccine is not available for everyone at this time. The first doses are being provided to those most at risk, starting with elderly residents in long-term care facilities and staff who care for them, as well as health-care providers working in ICUs, ERs and COVID medical wards. Other priority groups will receive the vaccine in the coming weeks. The timetable for this is constantly being updated based on vaccine supply, such as with the recent announcement of a delay in the delivery of Pfizer vaccine.

Please be patient with your family doctors and medical staff as they work hard to provide medical care for us all. There is no need to call your doctor’s office to book an appointment or have your name on a list to be vaccinated.As the vaccine is made available to population groups (e.g. people over the age of 80) there will be public communication with information on how to book an appointment. The local Public Health Unit is working closely with family physicians and other health-care providers to ensure that we have a smooth and efficient system for providing vaccinations on the island. As more information becomes available we will keep you updated.

It is important that we don’t take the arrival of the vaccine as an opportunity to drop our guard or be less vigilant in maintaining infection control. We need to continue to limit our contacts to those in our households, maintain physical distance from others, wear a mask in public spaces and when we can’t maintain distance, and wash our hands. It will take time to achieve a level of immunity in the community that will act as a barrier to community spread. 

Until then, our individual and collective adherence to the public health orders and guidelines will determine whether or not we continue to have low levels of COVID-19 activity on Salt Spring.

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