26 new COVID-19 cases in Island Health, as it prepares to start booking vaccines next week

Anyone age 90 or older and living independently in the Island Health region can call next week to book a COVID-19 vaccine, as can Indigenous people age 65 and older.

Vaccinations will begin March 15 for those two groups, who can call 1-833-348-4787 starting Monday to book their shots.

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Others seeking to be vaccinated are asked to wait to call when their age-based registration window begins.

Next week, the province plans to immunize remaining high-risk priority groups, including seniors in independent living, those receiving home support and health workers.

B.C. is expected to receive a shipment of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines by Tuesday, which will be used first in communities with clusters and outbreaks, followed by first responders and essential workers.

On Friday, Health Canada announced it had approved use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The availability of a fourth vaccine —along with the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstaZeneca vaccines — will help accelerate protection of British Columbians, said a joint statement by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Island Health reported 26 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, out of 634 new cases province-wide.

The number of new cases remains higher than “where we want it to be,” said Henry and Dix , who called for British Columbians to continue to follow public health orders and restrictions as more people are vaccinated.

The reproduction rate of the virus — how many people an infected person will pass the virus on to — is now about 1.2 in the Island Health region. Henry has said the province wants to keep the number well below one.

There are now 256 active cases in the Island Health region, 139 of which are in the central region, 62 in the north and 55 in the south.

Across the province, there are 4,901 active cases of COVID-19, of whom 255 are in hospital, including 66 in intensive or critical care. Another 8,861 people being monitored as a result of being exposed to known cases.

The majority of the new cases in B.C. — 365 — are in the Fraser Health region.

Of the new positive cases in the province, four are confirmed variants of concern, for a total of 250 cases, of which 12 are active. The majority, 222 cases, are the U.K. variant.

Another four COVID-19 deaths were reported Friday, for a total of 1,380 to date in B.C.

The province has administered 311,208 doses of vaccine, of which 86,865 were second doses. All second doses are now being given 16 weeks after the first.


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