North Island Medical Health Officer Dr Charmaine Enns recently gave Campbell River’s city council an overview of the pandemic’s impact on the Greater Campbell River Health Area, before and after vaccinations.
The intervention we have been waiting for
“Everything we did to the point in time before we had the vaccine was to buy us time for vaccine. We had to have these population restrictions, which has caused significant harm. There were public health orders; there were public health restrictions; businesses were shut down; people were afraid,” she said.
“The vaccine is the intervention we have been waiting for. There is nothing more to wait for, this is it … and it is very effective. Not only is it effective for the previous strains of COVID, it is equally effective for the variants that we know are here – including the Delta variant.”
She gave a historical overview of the situation, since the first 31 cases were reported in the Greater Campbell Health area during March 2020.
The two cases reported by media were both within the city itself.
There were periodic rumours of COVID cases on Cortes Island during the months that followed, but the first publicly acknowledged case was on November 26th, when Chief Kevin Peacey posted a notice in the Tideline about one of the elders in the Klahoose village contracting COVID 19.
Dr Enns reports that since that initial peak in March, “The case counts have actually been quite low.”
Impacts before the Vaccine
There have been no COVID related deaths within the Greater Campbell River Health Area.
(The leading causes of death for people under the age of 60, was cancer, followed by toxic drug abuse.)
Three quarters of the people who were infected, first came into close proximity of someone with the disease. The #1 age group for infection was people between 20 and 39; only 3% were more than 80 years old.
The most significant health impacts were stress and the effects of isolation.
“The rate of toxic drug deaths in Campbell River area increased significantly in 2021, and again directly related to the pandemic,” said Enns.
Sixty-four percent of the respondents to a survey in May 2020 were concerned about their vulnerability to the disease. Many reported feelings of hopelessness. Over 40% felt their mental health had worsened.
“We also know that young families and youth were impacted disproportionately to the rest of the population,” said Enns.
Recovery after the vaccine
She said BC can now move forward because of a safe and effective vaccine.
The population level interventions that the province has carried out need to be replaced by the individual intervention of being vaccinated.
70% of Greater Campbell River’s population has now received its first dose of vaccine.
14% of Vancouver Island’s population, over the age of 12, has had their second dose.
“We need to continue to promote the vaccine because that is our ticket out of this pandemic,” said Enns.
As of late yesterday afternoon, Island Health reported there are still 8 active cases in North Vancouver Island.
The BC Centre for Disease Control released more specific data for the Local Health Areas during the week ending Saturday, June 12th.
At that time North Vancouver Island active cases were concentrated in two Local Health Areas. The Comox Valley had 7 active cases and a daily rate of 1 new case per 100,000. There were also 2 active cases in the Greater Campbell River Health Area, whose daily case count was rounded off to zero.
Links of Interest:
- (Cortes Currents) articles about, or mentioning, Dr Charmaine Enns
- (Cortes Currents) articles about, or mentioning, the Greater Campbell River Health Area
- (BCCDC) COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard
- Island Health’s COVID-19 dashboard
- (VIHA) School Exposure page
- (Gov of BC) BC’s Restart: A plan to bring us back together
- (Cortes Currents) COVID Updates
Top photo credit: Close-up medical syringe with a vaccine by Alachua County via Flickr (Public Domain)
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