B.C. health officials are planning to distribute vaccines to children under 12 and are expanding a mask mandate to kids five years and older in public indoor spaces as the Delta variant of COVID-19 has hit more Tri-City schools — and a church.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry took to the podium Tuesday (Oct. 12) to expand the mask mandate even for people who are already vaccinated against the virus.
The expanded mask mandate follows an earlier decision to require all students in kindergarten to Grade 12 to wear face coverings in schools.
The new order requires all British Columbians, five years and older, to wear face coverings in all indoor spaces, including malls, shopping centres, grocery store and on public transportation.
“Masking is going to be with us for awhile,” said Dr. Henry. “It makes it safer for everybody to be wearing masks.”
Meanwhile, vaccines for children 11 years and younger could soon be available at pharmacies and health clinics run by Fraser Health, according to Dr. Henry.
She said doctors’ offices are not set up to give COVID-19 jabs.
Health Canada is expected to review data submitted by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech before making a decision in the coming weeks and B.C. parents can already register their younger children to get shots when the vaccine becomes available.
Still, it remains to be seen how many parents will seek vaccines for their younger children.
In the Tri-Cities, about 10 per cent of the adult — 12 years and older — population remains unvaccinated.
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), between 89 and 90 per cent of Tri-City residents 12 and older have received one dose, while those with two doses are much lower — between 84 per cent and 86 per cent, depending on the city.
Port Moody continues to have the highest vaccination rate, according to BCCDC data.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to circulate in schools and at least one church.
Westwood Community Church in Coquitlam cancelled in-person services due to COVID-19 on Thanksgiving Sunday (Oct. 10) and next week because "quite a few individuals have contracted the Covid virus and are quite sick," according to the website.
As well, Fraser Health is reporting 17 Tri-City schools — 10 in Coquitlam, six in Port Coquitlam and one in Port Moody — with COVID-19 exposures, up from 13 reported last week.
TRI-CITIES VACCINATION DATA
The following are vaccination rates among eligible residents aged 12 years and older across the Tri-Cities as of Oct. 7, 2021, the latest data provided by the BCCDC:
Those with two doses:
- Coquitlam = 85 per cent
- Port Coquitlam = 84 per cent
- Port Moody = 86 per cent
Those with one dose
- Coquitlam = 90 per cent
- Port Coquitlam = 89 per cent
- Port Moody = 90 per cent
COVID-19 SCHOOL EXPOSURES
- Traditional Learning Academy: Sept. 21-24, 27 and Oct. 5
- Bramblewood Elementary: Oct. 4-5
- Centennial Secondary Sept. 23, 27-28
- Ecole Dr. Charles Best Secondary: Sept. 22-24, 27-29 and Oct. 1
- Ecole Panorama Heights Elementary: Sept. 27-29
- Hillcrest Middle: Oct. 1
- Parkland Elementary: Oct. 1
- Riverview Park Elementary: Sept. 27-28
- Smiling Creek Elementary: Sept. 28
- Walton Elementary: Sept. 28-29
- British Columbia Christian Academy: Sept. 21-24 and Oct. 1
- Birchland Elementary: Oct. 4-6
- Blakeburn Elementary: Sept. 29
- Ecole Irvine Elementary: Sept. 27-28
- Ecole Maple Creek Middle: Oct. 1
- James Park Elementary: Sept. 27-29, Oct. 1, 4-7
- Ecole Glenayre Elementary: Sept. 27-28