The interval between a first and second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is being reduced in B.C. from seven weeks to 28 days.
The move comes after cases continue to rise throughout the province, particularly in the Central Okanagan, which is experiencing a community outbreak, Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday in a teleconference.
“It is important for all of us in the community to have the best protection possible,” she said.
However, Dr. Henry noted a longer interval was still desirable and said for people who do not work in risky environments or live in hot spot areas, waiting six to eight weeks after a first dose may still offer better protection.
Relaxing travel restrictions
Canada will now allow fully vaccinated Americans to enter the country and skip the previously mandatory 14-day quarantine period as part of an easing of COVID-19 restrictions on travel.
Although they get to skip quarantine, all fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada must still provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Air passengers need to take the test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of their final direct flight to Canada.
However, as of Monday, vaccinated travellers will get to skip the government-administered post-arrival COVID-19 test — unless they’re randomly selected to take it.
Within B.C., people who had plans to travel to the Central Okanagan have been asked by the provincial health authority to cancel or reschedule after restrictions were imposed on the region last week due to rising COVID-19 cases.
The latest spike in cases in the province is concentrated in the Interior health region, which includes Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Lake Country and Rutland. Restrictions have also been placed on gatherings, nightclubs have been closed and a mask mandate is in effect.
Dr. Henry says they have been working hard with communities across the Interior to ensure hospitals keep space available as cases surge.
“This is another one of the reasons we have really put the message out there this is not the time to travel,” she said.
Around 95 percent of COVID-19 patients in the hospital in B.C. as of Friday had not been vaccinated or had received only one dose. None of the patients in intensive care were vaccinated, Health Minister Adrian Dix said.
British Columbians aged 12 and over who have not yet been immunized can register in three ways:
- Online through the Get Vaccinated portal.
- By calling 1-833-838-2323. Translators are available in 140 languages.
- In-person at any Service B.C. location.
People can also be immunized at walk-in clinics throughout the province.
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