Risk of COVID hospitalization 50 times higher among unvaccinated

The province is in a 'fragile balance,' says Dr. Bonnie Henry

Public health officials in B.C. reiterated the message about getting vaccinated Thursday, Nov. 4 | Photo: zoranm / Getty Images

The province continues to drive home the message to British Columbians about the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine, as more data shows the protection the vaccines provide.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix presented the latest epidemiological modelling data Thursday afternoon, showing new COVID-19 cases in B.C. have been slowly but steadily decreasing in recent weeks.

Henry noted that after rising case numbers across the Interior just a couple months ago, the region has seen significant recent decreases.

The COVID-19 reproductive number — the average number of people infected with each new case — is close to or below one in every health authority in the province, including the Interior, where it's roughly 0.93.

Henry said while modelling shows a predicted decrease in new cases over the coming weeks, the province is in a “fragile balance.”

Dix and Henry once again urged B.C. residents to get vaccinated if they haven't done so. Data from Oct. 1 to Oct. 28 shows people are about 50 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 if they are unvaccinated compared to fully vaccinated people of the same age, while unvaccinated people of the same age are 46 times more likely to die from the virus.

The province has seen many so-called “breakthrough” cases among vaccinated seniors, that have led to dozens of deaths of people over the age of 80.

Henry said age remains the highest risk factor for dying from the virus and that older people's immune systems don't respond as well to the vaccine. She encouraged younger people who are in contact with seniors to ensure they're vaccinated, to help protect the elderly.

British Columbians 70 and older have been offered a third booster dose of the vaccine, to help protect seniors further.

Booster shots have been offered in 97 per cent of B.C.'s long-term care homes, including 98 per cent of Interior care homes.

Among unvaccinated people, COVID deaths are more prevalent among younger British Columbians compared to those who are vaccinated.

While new cases and COVID hospitalizations have remained relatively high across the province for a number of months, Henry said modelling shows the province would be far worse off without the protection of vaccines. She said the Delta variant has proven to be far more transmissible than earlier versions of the virus, and it's been causing more severe illness among younger people, particularly those who are unvaccinated.