Proof of vaccination no longer required in B.C. starting Friday, second COVId-19 booster announced

The BC Vaccine Card is no longer required at social and recreational events beginning at midnight on Friday. D…

The BC Vaccine Card is no longer required at social and recreational events beginning at midnight on Friday.

Dr. Bonnie Henry made the initial announcement to stop utilizing the program on March 10th. At this time, health officials said proof of vaccinations would end if transmissions have decreased, vaccination rates have grown, and fewer hospitalizations have been reported.

“We’re in a reasonably good place since I last provided an update in March. We have continued to see progress that is in the right direction. Transmission, hospitalizations, and deaths are all down since our last report, and this is encouraging,” said Dr. Henry on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s announcement comes after COVID-19 hospitalizations have seen a spike after a couple of months of declines. According to the latest provincial data, hospitalizations have increased to 321, up 47 people over the weekend.

With restrictions being lifted and the more transmissible BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, Henry says the province is likely to see an increase in cases over the coming months, followed by another gradual decrease.

Booster dose numbers are also low at 59 per cent for people aged 18 and older, while 91 per cent of the age group is fully vaccinated across the province. For eligible kids aged five to 11, 56 per cent have received their first dose.

Henry also announced a spring booster dose for seniors aged 70 and older, Indigenous people aged 55 and older, six months after their third dose. The fourth dose program has already started at some long-term cares homes, according to the province.

Those considered clinically extremely vulnerable are now eligible for an additional booster. The latest data shows that people aged 80 and older continue to be the most at-risk of hospitalization from COVID-19, health officials said.

“The older we are, the sooner antibodies will wane,” said Henry.

“An extra booster dose right now will provide a rapid increase in antibodies and we’ve seen that from data in other countries where this has been used.”

According to recent modelling, new hospitalizations are down compared to earlier in the year on a seven-day moving average, with seniors aged 80 and older still showing a high rate per a population of one million. These figures are for PCR positive cases, noted Henry.

“Compared to other jurisdictions, we have been able to flatten our hospitalization curve and draw it out, which is really important. That helps us preserve our health care system,” said Henry.

The presentation also shows that the brunt of hospitalizations during the Omicron wave from January to March was from unvaccinated individuals.

On Tuesday, Health officials also announced that the vaccine requirement for post-secondary students living in residence will also be lifted, and businesses will transition from a COVID-19 safety plan to a communicable disease plan.

It was also said that COVID-19 data sharing will be provided weekly starting Thursday.

More to come.

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