COVID vaccines encouraged for youth; 229 new cases reported over weekend in B.C.

B.C.’s provincial health officer reported 229 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, including five in Island Health, while encouraging youth 12 and older to get their first vaccine dose before the summer holidays begin.

Dr. Bonnie Henry reported about 90 new COVID-19 cases each on Saturday and Sunday and 45 Monday, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 1,204. Of the active cases, 108 are in hospital, ­including 48 in intensive care.

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Three additional COVID-related deaths were reported, for a total 1,743 in B.C.

“We encourage everyone to start your summer off right by ensuring you have your first dose,” Henry said. “In particular, as the school year comes to a close, we encourage all eligible youth, those 12 and older, to get your first dose before the summer holidays begin.”

Young people can register to get vaccinated at mass clinics or accompany parents to appointments.

The Canadian Paediatric ­Society has advocated for the vaccination of all children 12 years and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized in December for use in Canada for those 16 and older, and in May for children 12 to 15.

Since late April, there have been rare reports of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac or lining around the heart, in people who received messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The cases have been generally mild and resolved on their own.

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have said they are monitoring reports. It’s not yet clear whether there is a link between the vaccine and the heart inflammation.

The Office of the Chief Medical Officer at the First Nations Health Authority said the benefits far exceed the risks. “The mRNA vaccines offer clear benefits in reducing hospitalizations and deaths as well as avoiding the long-term health effects the COVID-19 virus can cause.”

The province says 75 per cent of people 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. A total of 4.4 million doses have been administered in B.C., including 935,401 second doses.

Drop-in clinics opened on the weekend in areas with lower-than-average vaccination rates. Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, 311 South Shore Rd., will host a clinic 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, and noon to 6:30 p.m. on June 29 and 30. Registration is encouraged but not required.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

> Register at gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated or phone 1-833-838-2323

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