The widespread use of just one dose of COVID-19 vaccines in various B.C. communities has proven effective at lowering rates of infection, according to B.C.’s top doctor.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry took an extended period during a Thursday briefing to outline early results of how COVID-19 cases have tapered off within Prince Rupert, First Nations communities and frontline health-care workers for those who’ve received one dose.
Prince Rupert was ground zero earlier this year for a significant outbreak, pushing health officials to engage in widespread vaccinations in the northwest B.C. city.
Indigenous people were prioritized as a group early and health officials administered widespread vaccinations to First Nations communities rather than deferring to the age-based program for the general population.
From December 27 to May 1, the province logged 79,480 cases of COVID-19.
Among those who’ve received one dose of a vaccine, 1,340 people eventually became infected — or 1.7% of cases. A total of 26 who had received one dose passed away and four people who received two doses passed away.
The median age of those who became infected was 49, however, that number is influenced by the fact the province has been administering the vaccine based on descending age brackets.
But Henry noted that the number of cases dropped off significantly the more weeks that had passed after a first dose was administered.
“There is a drop off after 14 days and then an additional drop off after about three weeks,” she said.
“This is when your body is developing the immune protection that you need to protect you long term.”
She emphasized that while a single dose can reduce the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 significantly, that risk does not fully dissipate.
To date, 2,215,826 British Columbians have received at least one dose of a vaccine, while 119,691 people have received two doses.
Henry also revealed a second case has emerged of a person within B.C. developing rare blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca plc vaccine.
A man in his 40s living in the Fraser Health region is in stable condition and receiving treatment.
“The vaccine seems to stimulate an immune response that develops antibodies against our platelets. So this causes a type of clotting that is different from other types of blood clots that people have had,” she said.
Henry urged people to contact health authorities to receive treatment if they are experiencing persistent severe headaches, shortness of breath, chest pain or severe abdominal pain, and swelling or redness in a limb.
Meanwhile, some jurisdictions in the world have been offering incentives — anything from free beers to sweepstakes for cash — to those reluctant to get vaccinated.
Henry said health officials will continue to provide information to people and many previously reluctant British Columbians have been coming around on getting vaccinated as more info is presented to them.
“Right now we’re not considering incentives but that’s something that is always in there [to consider],” Henry said.