Unvaccinated people 12 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19: B.C. Health Ministry

Health officials continue to urge British Columbians to get vaccinated against COVID-19, with the latest modelling data providing details on hospitalization rates in the province.

Speaking at a live briefing Friday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said people who are unvaccinated are 12 times more likely to require hospitalization due to COVID-19 compared to people who are vaccinated in the same age group.

The risks go up when looking at ICU rates and COVID-19-related deaths.

Health officials estimate that unvaccinated people are 27 times more likely to require intensive care, and 40 times more at risk of death from COVID-19.

Henry noted that while vaccinated people account for most of B.C.'s new COVID-19 cases, and represent just over half of the province's current patients in hospital, hospitalization rates are still much higher for unvaccinated people.

About 17 per cent of eligible B.C. residents are not vaccinated against COVID-19, but make up about 47 per cent of people in hospital as of Jan. 10.

Unvaccinated people also make up about 60 per cent of patients in critical care as of Jan. 7, despite making up less than one-fifth of B.C.'s overall population.

Between Dec. 11 and Jan. 7, unvaccinated people accounted for 63 per cent of COVID-19-related deaths, according to the health ministry.

Across all ages groups, the risks of going to hospital for COVID-19 "go up dramatically if you do not have protection from vaccination," said Henry.

Health officials referred to a visual representation of hospital rates to illustrate the point:

AGE AS RISK FACTOR

Health officials say age is still the largest risk factor for severe illness from COVID-19, regardless of if people are vaccinated or not.

Older people, particularly residents aged 70 and older, make up the bulk of hospitalizations in B.C. – though seniors who are unvaccinated are still winding up in hospital at a higher rate than their vaccinated counterparts.

B.C.'s top doctor says it's important that people sign up for their third dose booster shot, which will provide greater protection against transmission – and, on average, reduce severity.

She added that about 50,000 people over the age of 70 have been offered a booster shot but have not yet made an appointment, and encouraged them to do so.

"We know that that extra dose makes a big difference," said Henry.

Health officials say the province's third dose rollout plan is working as intended, with a focus on older people and vulnerable residents first.

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