2021-07-27 BC

Press Briefing

Minister Dix, Dr. Henry, and Dr. Ballem (head of the immunization project) had a relatively low-information-content briefing today.

They emphasized that the next two weeks are critical. (Note that they say that about every time period.) I’d like to point out in passing, I’m sure that this doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but the border is going to be opened to the Americans in exactly 12 days from now if the border guards don’t go on strike.

A lot of the conference was rah-rah-go-team-everybody-get-vaxxed, including the announcement of a “new campaign”, Vax for BC. It sounds like it’s mostly an ad campaign(?), but they are also shifting resources. They said that this week, the last of the big clump of people would go through for their second shots. (If you look at the Inoculations per Day chart down below, you’ll see that the green bars started a steep slide on about 2 June, which was slightly under 8 weeks ago.)

They are doing a huge push for walk-ins on August 4. (Maybe they think that’s how they are going to get all the 20-somethings?)

After that, they are going to reduce the capacity of the mass vax clinics significantly. While currently they are doing about 400K/week, they will drop to about 150K/week.

They are going to divert the resources to harder-to-reach areas (which implicitly means rural). They are going to have more, smaller clinics. They are going to have more mobile clinics; they are going to put more effort into finding community leaders and persuading them to help persuade their community.

80% of the eligible population has gotten at least one dose. 20% — about 900K — has not. From this tweet, the 20% who haven’t are mostly in rural areas:

Another piece of useful information: DrH said that surveys show that only about 1% to 5% are vaccine-hostile. If we get everyone who is not vaccine-hostile, we’d reach 95% of the eligible population, that would would be about 85% of the total population. The under-12s aren’t eligible, but they don’t catch COVID as easily, so if we :waves hands: say that they are like half vaccinated, then that would get us to an effective vaccination rate of something like 90%. That might be enough for herd immunity.

Q&A

Reminder: I paraphrase heavily and sometimes snarkily.

Q: It sounds like you are hinting at maybe having vax mandates for health care workers. A: DrH: I have low patience for HCW not getting vaccinated. If you work in health care and don’t get vaccinated, you will have to take extra precautions and get tested regularly. (Note to those who have not gotten a deep nasal swab: it’s about as unfun as a Pap smear, so this is not a toothless threat.) We already have an influenza vaccination policy, so this is not new.

Dix: This is not new. When we had measles outbreaks in 2019, if your child got measles, they did not go to school. It’s important to understand that for the protection of the whole community there must be consequences.

Q: Going back to school for teens, will there be any separation of kids who did not get vaccinated? A: Dix/Henry: Everybody should get vaccinated. Yay, vax for everyone! (You are very perceptive, they did not answer the question.) In post-secondary institutions, you might need to have a vax to live in residence halls.

Q: Why don’t you drop the dose interval to get more people vaxxed faster? A: Well, we kind of are: we’ve gone from 16 weeks to 12 to 7. When we switch over to the smaller clinics, we might effectively go down to 6 weeks. I did not completely understand that response, but it might be that if you only go to West Outer Bumfuck every other week, you might vax someone who comes in slightly early instead of making them wait for the next time the mobile clinic is in West Outer Bumfuck.

Q: You’re hoping that the next two weeks is going to bring the vax rate up enough, what is “enough”? A: DrH: COVID will be with us for a while, but hopefully the pandemic won’t. We want to be vaxxed enough that we don’t have rapid spread. We’ve seen in long-term care homes that we can contain the spread. There’s no magic number, aside from “as high as we can possibly get”. I want to shoot for 100%,
but in reality we can’t get there.

Q: The French Prime Minister put in a bunch of restrictions on unvaxxed people and there was an explosion of vax signups. If businesses here started requiring vaccination, wouldn’t that drive vaccinations up? A: DrH: Absolutely, and I’ve been talking to businesses about that. I know that if I had a business, I’d want to keep my staff safe and make sure I didn’t get shut down by an outbreak among my employees.

Q: What happens when you close a clinic due to wildfires? A: DrH and DrB: We have closed because of impending fire, smoke, and also just because it was too hot to be safe. When we close, if we can, we’ll reschedule for a few days later. If we can’t, we’ll divert to the closest city, frequently providing transportation.

Q: How many clinics have you closed due to wildfires or heat? A: DrB: Eight, I think.

Q: The US CDC has shifted back to a mask mandate for indoors, will we? A: DrH: We already/still advise that you wear a mask in indoor public spaces. NB: The US CDC did not mandate masks indoors, it recommends masks indoors, so her answer does actually make sense in that context.

Q: Should we be worried about a fourth wave? Will we see the return of extra measures? A: DrH: I wish I knew [about a fourth wave]. We are seeing a new pandemic in the unvaccinated around the world. We’re seeing that here too, but we need to go back to the goals: 1) prevent sickness and mortality 2) prevent overload of health care system 3) prevent societal disruption. We’ve mostly dealt with #1 and #2, now we have to deal with #3. I do not expect the return of broad-based general measures, but more local measures. For example, a business might need to be closed, or we might need to have restrictions at a specific long-term care home.

Q: Why are the lesser-vaxxed communities lesser-vaxxed? A: It’s a combination of logistics and confidence. The Interior has lots of small, widely separated towns, which makes access to vaccines more difficult. There have been wildfires. And they perhaps have not had access to good information. We need to step up our ground game to get them the access they need and answer their questions.

Q: Why aren’t you using family doctors more? A: The cool chain logistics are detailed and tricky and a pain in the ass, moreso than family doctors are prepared to handle. The provincial booking system is provincial and we don’t have a way to integrate the docs. At some point when the logistics get easier, then of course we would welcome more involvement from the family docs. Also note that other immunizations are done through the province and not the family docs, so this isn’t all that novel. Furthermore, family docs and retired docs have been helping vaccinate at the mass vax clinics.

Q: How many cases are from out of province? A: I don’t have the numbers, but the more mobile ya are, the more cases there are gonna be. We take the virus with us to places and/or take it home with us.

Q: Quebec is offering a third dose to people who want to travel where mixing vaxxes is not recognized, will BC do that? A: We are looking at that across the country. Right now, be patient, it’ll all get sorted out. We talk to the feds, the feds talk to other countries, it will get sorted. I expect that an international travel vaccine passport is coming. There are people who say there’s no data on mixing, but there really is, including the millions of people who have mixed — it just takes time to get that into the scientific literature. Note that the chances of an adverse reaction go up as you have more doses.

Statistics

This tweet, using BC CDC data, has this nice graph:

As this tweet says, a good way of thinking about our current state is that 20% of the people account for 80% of the hospitalizations.

+150 cases, +0 deaths, +5,436 first doses, +47,541 second doses.

Currently 44 people in hospital / 22 in ICU, 783 active cases, 146,700 recovered.

first dosessecond doses
of adults81.7%65.3%
of over-12s80.7%62.3%
of all BCers73.5%56.7%

We have 681,089 doses in fridges; we’ll use it up in 11.8 days at last week’s rate. We’ve delivered more doses than we’d received by 15 days ago.

We have 619,193 mRNA doses in fridges; we’ll use it up in 10.7 days at last week’s rate. We’ve delivered more mRNA doses than we’d received by 15 days ago.

Charts

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