'Get that 2nd dose': Doctor says full vaccination will put B.C. on path towards normal life

British Columbia's deputy provincial health officer is encouraging residents to register for a second dose of vaccine as the province heads toward a return to normal life with declining COVID-19 cases and rising vaccination rates.

Dr. Reka Gustafson says B.C. recorded 481 cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths over three days while 199 people are in hospital.

A total of 511 people were in hospital at the height of the pandemic, with 183 patients in intensive care.

Gustafson says 72 per cent of residents 12 and over have now received a first dose of vaccine as the province pushes to get second doses administered as fast as possible, about eight weeks after an initial shot.

While two doses of vaccine are more protective against the Delta variant, Gustafson says B.C. has had only about 500 of such cases, which is relatively low compared with other jurisdictions.

She says people who had a first shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should feel comfortable getting the same vaccine or an mRNA vaccine such as the one made by Pfizer-BioNTech for their second dose unless they've had an allergic reaction or a blood clot, both of which are rare.

“The most robust studies about effectiveness come from two doses of the same vaccine,” she says.

“Either choice is reasonable. We are providing all the information we can for individuals to make healthy choices for themselves. The most important thing is to get that second dose.”

Gustafson says B.C. may soon be moving from mounting an emergency response against COVID-19 to managing it as another communicable disease through local public health-care providers.

“What we can look forward to as an immunized population is that COVID-19 will become one of these communicable diseases,” she said.

“It also means the public health teams can return to some of the other equally important work that keeps us well. To prevent overdoses, to prevent injuries and to reduce health inequities in our population.

“We are on a good path to get back to work, to university, to seeing friends and travelling, resuming all of those connections that are so important to all of us.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2021.