British Columbia

Fully vaccinated B.C. mom urges vigilance after testing positive for COVID-19

Cases of COVID-19 are rising among school-aged children and that's having an effect on vaccinated family members.

Cases of COVID-19 are rising among school-aged children in the province

Despite being fully vaccinated, Jenn Goldie caught COVID-19 after her two school-aged children tested positive for the virus. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

A fully vaccinated mother who caught COVID-19 in Prince George, B.C., is urging parents to be vigilant as cases of the virus spike among school-aged children.

Jenn Goldie's six-year-old son tested positive for the virus last week after exhibiting some symptoms the morning of Sept. 21. He was followed by his twin sister, then Goldie and finally her husband.

Despite being fully vaccinated, Goldie says she still spent several days feeling rundown and unable to do more than sleep.

"Honestly, it just made me grateful I had the vaccine, so I didn't end up in hospital," she said.

The experience has prompted Goldie to go public as she has discovered a total of ten students in her children's class have also tested positive for COVID, along with at least two other fully vaccinated parents.

This comes as the province is recording a rise in cases among school-aged children, including some who are hospitalized.

Though several letters have been sent home to families alerting them of possible exposures in the classroom, none have been posted publicly by Northern Health. Goldie says the only reason she even got her son tested was because another parent had told her about the possible classroom exposure a few days earlier.

"It was the mildest of sore throats. I wouldn't have even been concerned had I not known about that previous case," she said.

In an email, Northern Health said it has no reason to believe "COVID-19 transmission has been occurring in the school setting" in Prince George and said the virus may instead be spreading at social gatherings. 

"This doesn't mean there aren't potentially linked cases within households/the community, stemming from exposures in non-school settings, given high rates of COVID-19 activity in the region," the email says.

One possible setting for transmission was a birthday party Goldie organized for her children the weekend prior to them contracting COVID. However, she stresses that all public safety rules were followed and that only kids from the same class were in attendance.

While at the party she found out there had been a case of COVID in the class the week prior. Goldie says she might not have invited other kids had she known about the risk earlier.

"But it's not about placing blame," she said. "The fact is my son got it, we don't know where he got it, but it is spreading in his class."

Contact tracers struggling to keep up

Goldie's larger concern is that the contact tracing system in northern B.C. is falling behind as the number of COVID-19 cases in the region grow at a rapid pace. Several people in the region have complained of long wait times to get tested and delays in receiving results.

The province has acknowledged these delays and on Tuesday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said efforts are underway to increase capacity for both testing and contact tracing in the north while also urging people to follow public health guidelines.

"The bottom line is, if you have symptoms it is important to stay home," she said.

B.C.'s Northern Health region is recording more than double the number of COVID-19 cases per capita than any other part of the province. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

It was knowledge of these delays that prompted Goldie to be proactive about telling other parents when her own kids tested positive for COVID-19. She started a Facebook group and text chain to help exchange information.

"Sending that text broke my heart and I cried while doing it," she said. "I felt a sense of guilt and shame."

But she said she's received nothing but support from the other parents, reinforcing her feeling that being proactive was the right decision.

"I just felt like it's my responsibility to let other parents know what's going on," she said. "It was the right thing to do."

Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Kurjata

CBC Prince George | @akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is an award-winning journalist covering Northern British Columbia for CBC Radio and cbc.ca, situated in unceded Lheidli T'enneh territory in Prince George. You can email him at andrew.kurjata@cbc.ca. You can also send encrypted messages using Signal or iMessage to 250.552.2058.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now