British Columbia·Video

B.C. COVID–19 cases surge in young people as health officials urge more people to get vaccinated

Health officials in British Columbia say the province is now experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases in young people who are unvaccinated or have one dose and urged residents to get their shots one day after walk-in clinics opened throughout B.C.

Provincial health officer wouldn't endorse or rule out vaccine passports but says B.C. considering all options

As COVID-19 case numbers continue to spike in B.C., Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said many young people have not yet had the chance to get immunized. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Health officials in British Columbia said Thursday the province is experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases in younger people who are unvaccinated or have one dose and urged residents to get their shots one day after walk-in clinics opened throughout B.C.

Cases are increasing at the highest rate among young people, according to the most recent statistics, with more than half of the new cases in the last week of July among people aged 15-29.

The advice to get vaccinated comes after experts say the number of cases caused by the delta variant is doubling every seven to 10 days in the province.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said many young people have not yet had the chance to get immunized and that new walk-in clinics would offer "quick and easy" ways for them to access vaccines.

"Particularly as we head back to school, back to university come September, it's going to be more and more important for all of us to be protected so that we can manage this pandemic and move on with our lives," she said at news conference on Thursday.

Surge prevalent in young people: Henry

"We are experiencing a surge in cases right now, particularly among young people between the ages of 20-40." 

Henry said 95 per cent of people who have COVID-19 right now in B.C. have not been vaccinated or have received only one dose.

She also said everyone in critical care in B.C.'s Interior were people who haven't yet been vaccinated.

The region accounted for nearly 60 per cent of new cases on Thursday, a week after officials instituted a local mask mandate

Following the news that Quebec would be implementing a vaccine passport system in the coming weeks, Henry would neither endorse one nor rule it out, but said all options were being considered. 

"We are looking at all of the options for how do we best move through the fall, recognizing that COVID will still be with us," she said.

WATCH | Dr. Bonnie Henry says health officials looking at all options to keep people protected:

B.C. officials vague on vaccine passports

1 year ago
Duration 0:54
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province is "looking at all options" as Quebec announced a vaccine passport system due to rising case numbers.

Henry said officials would not deny people essential services based on their vaccination status, but she was clear that the province needed to make sure the health-care system is protected.

"You are not obliged to get vaccinated in B.C. or anywhere else in Canada, but there are consequences if you don't," said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Officials watching spread of delta variant in children

Henry said the delta variant and the gamma variant first seen in Brazil were now prevalent across most of the province, and that officials were monitoring how the mutations spread among young children.

"What we are not seeing is the increased rates of transmission in young children and children under 12 in particular," she said. 

"We have seen in some other countries where they've had an increase in younger children, but we've not seen that here."

Henry said that the province is watching to see what happens in the next few weeks as children return to school, and reiterated that teachers and people in school settings should get immunized if they are eligible.

Walk-in vaccination blitz 'very successful'

Health officials said that 33,277 doses of vaccine were administered Wednesday, 16,505 of which were part of the province's "Walk-In Wednesday" vaccination blitz.

Of the walk-ins, 6,130 were first doses. The numbers represent the highest number of shots given out in B.C. since July 31, and the highest number of first doses since July 15.

Dix said that Wednesday was a "very successful day" for immunization in the province.

"All of our clinics offer the possibility of walking in whenever they are open," he said. "Now is the time to book your appointment or drop in."

While walk-in clinics for both first and second doses are now open across B.C., Dix said registering was the best option for residents to secure their doses.

British Columbians aged 12 and over who have not yet been immunized can register in three ways:

With files from The Canadian Press

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