On Wednesday evening the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) announced that for the period of April 18 – 24 there were 4 new cases of COVID-19 reported for the Powell River Local Health Area (includes City of Powell River, qathet Regional District (minus Lasqueti), and Tla’amin Nation).
Though B.C.’s daily numbers remain high, there are signs that the virus’s third wave may have crested. Regardless, we need to remain vigilant and follow Public Health Orders to ensure that numbers continue to decline. In a written statement this week Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix reminded British Columbians of the importance of this:
“Whether you had your vaccine last month, or are booked for the days ahead, we remind everyone to continue to use all of your layers of protection, to stay small and stay local until we have COVID-19 where we want and need it to be.”
As of Wednesday, April 28th 1,705,409 doses of vaccine had been administered in British Columbia with 89,725 of those being second doses. About 36% of people eligible have now received their first shot.
Anyone 18 years or older (born in 2003 or earlier) can now register to receive a vaccine and people in their late 50s are now being invited to book vaccination appointments.
Dr. Henry and Adrian Dix said in their joint report yesterday: “Each week, more and more vaccine is arriving in our province, and with each person who gets their vaccine, we are all a little safer.”
Call 1-833-838-2323 between 7 am and 7 pm to book your appointment or register online here.
Yesterday, the provincial government announced that B.C. employers are now required by law to give workers up to three hours of paid time off to get vaccinated.
ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS
A number of questions have come up around vaccines and the vaccination process this week, and we wanted to answer some of the common ones in our update:
Q: If I received my first dose of vaccine before VCH’s online booking system was set up how will I know when it is time for me to book my second shot?
A: Regardless of where/when you received your first shot your health authority has a record of your immunization date and will be in touch with you to advise you of time, date, and location for your second dose. As things stand now, you can expect to receive your second dose about four months from your initial vaccination.
Q: Once I have been vaccinated with my first dose, do I still need to follow all the Public Health guidelines?
A: According to Immunize BC everyone who receives the vaccine will still need to follow Public Health guidance and follow orders from the Provincial Health Officer. After you get a vaccine, it will still be extremely important to continue to practice all the preventive measures that have been recommended, including washing your hands, maintaining a safe physical distance, wearing a mask, and staying home when sick. There are several reasons this is important:
- It takes about 2 weeks for your body to gain protection from the COVID-19 vaccine. This means that if you contracted COVID-19 before getting the vaccine, or within the 2-week period following the vaccine, you may still get sick from COVID-19. So if you experience symptoms of COVID-19 after you’ve been vaccinated, use the BC self-assessment tool to determine if you need to be tested.
- The vaccine won’t stop everyone from getting COVID-19. For those who do get the virus, it is less likely you will experience severe illness.
- The available vaccines are highly effective, but you could be in the small number of people that don’t have immunity. You can still spread COVID-19 if you touch things and don’t wash your hands or interact with people in close proximity.
- After receiving your COVID-19 vaccine, be sure to keep a copy of your immunization record. By registering for Health Gateway, you will be able to access a digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccine record. The Health Gateway is a single place for BC residents to access their health records.
As things change, Public Health measures will be updated and adjusted. It is important to keep following Public Health recommendations.
Q: Are there long-term side effects caused by mRNA COVID-19 vaccines?
A: As per the FAQ document on Immunize BC:
While it’s difficult to definitively say whether or not there are long-term side-effects, the medical and scientific community is confident in the long-term safety of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the USA Centers for Disease Control, “Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades. mRNA vaccines have been studied before for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). As soon as the necessary information about the virus that causes COVID-19 was available, scientists began designing the mRNA instructions for cells to build the unique spike protein into an mRNA vaccine.” In addition, cancer research has used mRNA to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells. Decades of studying mRNA have shown no long-term side-effects.
According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the vaccine is not expected to have long-term negative effects for a few reasons:
- First, most negative effects occur within 6 weeks of receiving a vaccine, which is why the FDA asked the companies to provide 8 weeks of safety data after the last dose.
- Second, the mRNA in the vaccine breaks down pretty quickly because our cells need a way to stop mRNA from making too many proteins or too much protein.
- But, even if for some reason our cells did not break down the vaccine mRNA, the mRNA stops making the protein within about a week, regardless of the body’s immune response to the protein.
In addition, the medical and scientific community is confident in the vaccine’s long-term safety, because of the track record of Canada’s vaccine approval and B.C.’s safety monitoring system. Overall, this means that the end data and safety tests are exactly the same as other vaccines that have been approved in Canada. The safety monitoring system in Canada happens both passively and actively.
- Passive safety monitoring happens when anyone with a significant reaction to any vaccine reports it to their healthcare provider which is then reported to the BCCDC, Health Canada and all the way up to the World Health Organization. This information is shared globally in a timely way to flag for other countries any emerging and urgent concerns.
- An example of active safety monitoring is the nurses across Canada who are actively reviewing patients’ charts as part of the IMPACT (Immunization Monitoring Program ACTive). This is a pediatric hospital-based national active surveillance network for adverse events in children following immunization, vaccine failures and selected infectious diseases that are, or will be, vaccine-preventable.
Canada’s system has proven time and again that the data necessary to get through the approval process is sufficient to prove safety, even for the long-term.
Public Health does not support asymptomatic testing at this time, including for work-related reasons, unless directed by a Public Health official.
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL — Though travel of any kind is strongly discouraged at this time, we recognize there may be essential reasons for travel. If you require a COVID test for international travel, you can access self-pay testing directly at the Vancouver airport (for more information visit yvr.ca/en/passengers/takecare/covid-19-testing).
WORK-RELATED TESTING — If an employer requires a COVID test for an asymptomatic employee (i.e. that employee does not have any symptoms), the employer is responsible for arranging private testing. Employers/employees should refer to guidelines at bccdc.ca or visit prcomplexclinic.com.
Private testing avoids placing additional burden on B.C.’s public testing resources, which are in high demand due to the ongoing pandemic and record-breaking testing and infection numbers.
If you have COVID symptoms, please get tested.
There are two sites where people can currently get tested in Powell River. The Medical Clinic Associates on Joyce Avenue is doing COVID testing Monday through Friday, with the exception of stat holidays. To request an appointment please fill out the form at prcomplexclinic.com. This is the preferred method of booking so that phone lines do not become overwhelmed. However, if you are not able to book online you can call 604-485-3572 between 9 and 11 am on weekdays.
COVID testing is also being done at the Emergency Room at the Powell River General Hospital. People with severe symptoms, or those needing a test outside Medical Clinic Associates hours (listed above) should seek a test at this location.
Residents of Texada Island should call 604-486-7525 to book a test if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. COVID testing is being offered at the Texada clinic Monday through Friday.