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Unvaccinated COVID-19 patients fill B.C. ICU wards

Of the 130 people now in intensive care units at B.C. hospitals, 111 are unvaccinated
B.C. Minister of Health Adrian Dix addressed media earlier today | Photo: B.C. government

Health Minister Adrian Dix on September 9 provided new data to show that the most serious COVID-19 infections in B.C. are among those who are not yet vaccinated, and that these serious illnesses can occur at any age.

This is why it is so important to get vaccinated, he stressed.

Of the 130 COVID-19 patients in B.C. intensive care units (ICUs), 111 are unvaccinated, 10 are partially vaccinated, and nine are fully vaccinated, Dix said. 

He then provided part of an age breakdown that included:
• one person in the 20-24 age group;
• six people in the 25-29 age group;
• four people in the 30-34 age group;
• nine people in the 35-39 age group;
• five people in the 40-44 age group;
• seven people in the 45-49 age group;
• 11 people in the 50-54 age group;
• 21 people in the 55-59 age group;
• 14 people in the 60-64 age group;
• 11 people in the 65-69 age group.
• 15 people in the 70-79 age group;
• four people in the 80-89 age group; and
• three people whose ages could not be calculated. 

"My point is that this can effect everybody," Dix said. 

The widespread nature of the pandemic in B.C. shows no sign of abating. 

With another 774 cases identified in the past 24 hours, B.C. has 5,594 residents who are actively battling COVID-19 – up 44 from yesterday.

The number of those in hospital rose by one, compared with yesterday, to 262 – the highest level since May 28. That hospitalization statistic includes the 130 people in ICUs, which is the highest number since May 17.

Another five people have died from the pandemic in B.C., raising the province's pandemic death toll to 1,847.

Of the 172,338 people infected with COVID-19 since the first case in the province was detected in late January, 2020, more than 95.4%, or 164,470 individuals are deemed by the B.C. government to have recovered, because they have gone 10 days after first feeling symptoms, and are therefore not thought to be infectious.

Dix has been pleading with the 14.7% of British Columbians, who are eligible to get a dose of vaccine but have so far chosen not to, to get vaccinated. 

"We have one of the best vaccination programs in the world," he said. 

Provincial figures show that 85.3% of British Columbians eligible to be vaccinated, and older than 12 years, have had one dose of vaccine, and 77.8% of that population is fully vaccinated. 

Of the 3,955,624 B.C. residents who have received at least one dose of vaccine, more than 91.2%, or 3,608,067 are fully vaccinated. 

The B.C. government estimated in July that the province's total population is 5,147,712, so Glacier Media's calculation is that 76.8% of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and 70% of the province's total population has had two doses.

The province's high vaccination rate has translated in recent weeks into a slowdown in the number of vaccine jabs provided on a daily basis. 

In the past 24 hours, health officials administered 6,455 doses of vaccine to previously unvaccinated British Columbians. Another 6,898 jabs went to people as needed second doses. 

Outbreaks in the past few weeks have consistently shown that the provincial hot spots for infection, per capita, are in the Northern Health and Interior Health regions. That remained true today. 

Glacier Media crunched the numbers for how many of the 774 cases identified in the past day were in each of the province's health regions. The result for the number of new infections for each 10,000 residents (with total new cases in brackets) was:
• 1.3 in Fraser Health (233);
• 1 in Vancouver Coastal Health (123);
• 3.4 in Interior Health (253);
• 3.3 in Northern Health (98); and
• 0.8 in Island Health (65).

Two new cases were in people who normally reside outside B.C.

The result by health region for the 5,594 people fighting active infections for each 10,000 residents (with total new cases in brackets) was:
• 9.3 in Fraser Health (1,669);
• 7.4 in Vancouver Coastal Health (926);
• 23.5 in Interior Health (1,747);
• 25.1 in Northern Health (752); and
• 5.7 in Island Health (487).

The active case counts include 13 people who normally live outside B.C.

Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry last week called the situation a "pandemic of the unvaccinated."

This is because during the week of September 1 through 7 people not fully vaccinated accounted for 78.6% of new cases. Between August 25 and September 7, unvaccinated individuals accounted for 86.3% of hospitalizations, government data show.

The 4,694 cases in the week ended September 7 included:
• 3,296 (70.2%) unvaccinated;
• 393 (8.4%) partially vaccinated; and
• 1,005 (21.4%) fully vaccinated.

Of the 344 hospitalizations in the two weeks ended September 7, there were:
• 277 not vaccinated (80.5%);
• 20 partially vaccinated (5.8%); and
• 47 fully vaccinated (13.7%).

B.C. government data from late August, and adjusted for age, show that people who are unvaccinated are:
• 11 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than those who have had two vaccine doses;
• 31 times more likely to land in hospital with COVID-19 than those who have had two vaccine doses; and
• four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who have had two vaccine doses.

These numbers define unvaccinated as a person who either has not had a jab, or has not gone a full three weeks after a first dose. Partially vaccinated means a person who has had only one jab, or has not gone a full two weeks after the second dose. Fully vaccinated means a person who has gone two or more weeks after receiving a second dose of vaccine. 

Older people continue to be more susceptible to serious bouts of COVID-19, and to die from the illness. 

It is because of this, that outbreaks at seniors' living facilities are so concerning. 

B.C. has 22 such outbreaks, including some that are more broadly in healthcare facilities.