Island Health surpasses 500,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine

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Island Health has provided first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to over half a million people as of May 27. In the last week, it increased immunizations at community clinics to about 9,000 doses per day, the health authority said in a media release.

“As the number of people we vaccinate continues to rise, the level of protection against this virus grows daily,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s chief medical health officer. “Our teams and partners are working hard to get vaccine doses into arms and we should all feel optimistic about how setting this historic record is helping in our fight against COVID-19.”

The 506,251 people who have received at least one dose represents 65 per cent of residents 12 and older in the region. So far 29,773 people in Island Health have received a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The program is in its third phase and there are 17 clinic sites across the region, according to a media release from the health authority.

“This is a really important milestone for us, but we’re not done yet,” said Stanwick. “We are thankful to everyone who has chosen to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community. We all have a part to play and every dose administered gets us closer to controlling the spread of this virus.” 

Island Health has completed clinics in 28 rural and remote locations for people over 18 through its Whole Community Approach. Locations include the Gulf Islands, the North Island and the West Coast. The clinics were supported by a wide variety of community partners, from service clubs, to regional districts, to volunteer fire departments and local volunteers, according to Island Health. Second dose clinics are now being scheduled for those communities. 

In collaboration with First Nations and First Nations Health Authority, more than 11,500 people in about 50 communities received a first dose. Second dose clinics are now underway in rural, remote and urban First Nations communities.

Island Health said it has reached around 55 per cent of Vancouver Island’s estimated population of unhoused people. The work involved outreach to shelters, soup kitchens, park encampments and even a laundromat.

The health authority said it has expanded its teams of clinic staff and immunizers to successfully provide first doses to all eligible individuals who want the vaccine before the end of June. More than 375 volunteers are working to assist people at immunization clinics. 

Hundreds of immunizers from different specialities — including nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, midwives, medical students, pharmacists, dental hygienists, dentists, naturopaths, community paramedics and firefighters have joined the vaccination effort.

Over 9,000 residents and over 11,000 staff of 115 long-term care and assisted living homes, as well as more than 1,600 essential visitors, are receiving their second doses of vaccine, according to Island Health.

Over 27,000 healthcare workers and medical staff who were prioritized in phases one and two of the province’s COVID-19 immunization plan have received their first doses and many have already received a second dose, Island Health said.

Community health nurses have provided more than 2,800 in-home vaccinations for home support clients who are unable to leave their homes.

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