A defiant Dr. Bonnie Henry defends her COVID-19 decisions

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The provincial health official says British Columbians should prepare for a tough fall and winter from the pandemic and not expect anything like normal to return until sometime next year.

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Bonnie Henry also says that the much-discussed “herd immunity” will no longer be achieved until more than 90 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, as the delta variant has a high transmission potential, adding that it Chances are it will be making the disease. People are extremely ill in the next few years.

In a detailed interview with Dr. Henry, Dr. Henry also said that if the company is successful in obtaining the necessary approvals from Health Canada, children between the ages of six and 12 can be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine by the third week of October. could. And she stood by decisions made during the pandemic on indoor masking, vaccine passports and mandatory vaccines in settings such as university and long-term care homes.

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“All the time, I’ve tried to follow the key principles that we’ve been following,” Dr. Henry said. “And one of them is trying to manage this disease with minimal impact on people’s lives. It’s a balancing act and you can never get it right. “

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BC Currently, on an average, 500 to 700 new cases of Kovid-19 are being reported in a day. This has put pressure on the health care system and prompted more restrictions and the introduction of vaccine passports. One of the groups that have become most vulnerable to the latest wave are people who are in long-term care.

These facilities have had outbreaks several times since August. According to the latest government report, 37 people have died of COVID-19 in facilities where the outbreak is active. Two died in a home where the outbreak is over. Still, it wasn’t until last week that people employed in homes had to be given at least one shot of the vaccine to continue working – which many believed was high-risk given the setting. it was too late.

But Dr Henry said there was a lot of mistrust about vaccines among those working in long-term care settings. That said, it means there should be an education campaign to persuade those who may be hesitant that vaccines are safe and effective.

“I quickly expected that given the level of protection offered to residents by vaccines, this might be enough to close the ward. [breakthrough infections] But it was not enough,” she said.

He said that once it became clear that unvaccinated workers in long-term care homes were affecting people’s quality of life, a firm mandate became necessary. The one-shot requirement came into effect from 13 September. Two kicks needed next month.

Dr. Henry has also been criticized for not making a thorough vaccination mandatory for university students to attend classroom sessions. Several universities across the country have made full immunization mandatory for students hoping to attend classes. In BC, students are required to show proof of full vaccination to attend campus bars and cafeterias, but not in class.

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The provincial health official said his concern is that a vaccine mandate for the classroom could discriminate against some students who come from backgrounds or family situations where there are warnings about vaccines.

“There are ways to make those settings [classrooms] Safe without creating another barrier for marginalized people,” said Dr Henry. “If a First Nation student who comes from a community where there is a lot of concern about the vaccine, he can’t go to university. [because of a vaccine mandate] It would be a tragedy.”

Meanwhile, Dr Henry said he recently “turned down a call” about the timing of vaccinations for children between the ages of six and 12. He added that Pfizer is still on track to receive Health Canada medical approval, while it is seeking approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

She said the company could get the necessary green light in Canada next month. “It could be as early as the third week of October when we start distributing the vaccine for children,” she said. “We’re gearing up to do it.” He said that children get low doses.

Dr Henry said the question she often gets asked is: How long will this disease be with us? He said that it is too busy in his thinking.

“I think it’s going to be a tough fall and winter,” Dr. Henry said. “I think we’re going to get through this, but end up in a place where we’re living with the virus in a much less aggressive way, so it doesn’t overwhelm the health care system.

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“But it’s still going to cause severe disease in some people over the next few years.”

She said the masks will be with us for some time now, but she “hopes” that many of the restrictions we see now will be lifted by next spring. However, she said herd immunity – or what Dr. Henry likes to call “community immunity” – would be harder to achieve thanks to the delta version.

“With a more infectious strain of the virus that means you have to immunize many more people to get to a level where you’ll see fewer outbreaks in the community,” she said. “We thought at one time that if we had a vaccination rate of 80 percent, we could get to that point but the Delta version threw a wrench in that.

“Now, I think we’ll need to start in the 90s to reduce the rate of transmission of people who are fully vaccinated.”

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our BC and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing you with a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. .

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