Island Health is stepping up efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccinations, especially boosters, with a goal of giving 48,000 shots a week.
Chief medical health officer Dr. Richard Stanwick said Thursday that key to that effort is turning Esquimalt’s Archie Browning Sports Centre into a mass vaccination clinic, similar to what it was last summer.
It opens today.
Archie Browning has 24 vaccination stations. Its opening will be followed in two weeks by the establishment of a large clinic at the Sooke and Electoral Area Parks and Recreation Commission (SEAPARC) Leisure Complex.
“We really will be in a position to ramp up our abilities to provide booster doses to the community,” Stanwick said at the Esquimalt site Thursday.
Stanwick said a milestone was passed Wednesday with just over 20,000 cases of COVID-19 now recorded on Vancouver Island since the pandemic began. The region has also recorded 147 COVID-19 deaths.
He said close attention is being paid to the number of people in the acute-care system due to COVID-19. “At this point, we have 38 individuals that are requiring care in our institutions,” he said.
It is “worrisome” that 80 per cent of the 15 most seriously ill patients in that group have not been vaccinated, he said.
Some cases of COVID-19 being treated now have been found during hospital admissions for other medical problems, Stanwick said.
He said health officials are “very concerned” about the challenges that COVID-19 has presented to acute-care facilities in Ontario and Quebec, and there will be daily updates from Island facilities to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.
Vaccination remains the most important way to keep COVID-19 and the Omicron strain under control, said Stanwick, noting 1.6 million doses have been administered on the Island. That means 90.6 per cent of people over five years old have had one dose and 86 per cent have had two doses, he said.
“We really do want to make sure we capture as much of the population as possible.”
Stanwick credited vaccinations with keeping COVID-19 problems at long-term care homes under control.
While outbreaks — transmission within facilities — have been declared at seven sites, Stanwick said there are 30 homes with cases where transmission has not happened.
Eighty-one pharmacists are helping Island Health by providing vaccinations, and more are expected to join the effort, Stanwick said.
Retired nurses, midwives, physicians and firefighters have also been assisting, he said.
The increased number of vaccination appointments being made available means that even someone already scheduled to have a shot may be able to get it sooner, Stanwick said.
> Vaccination information online: gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated