Most of the Island is half-vaxxed, and that number keeps rising as COVID-19 case counts fall.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control released new data this week showing adult vaccination rates by local health area and in some cases, by neighbourhood.
Every local health area on the Island except one now has more than 60 per cent of adults 18-plus with at least one dose of vaccine, as only Cowichan Valley West had yet to meet that threshold as of May 24.
Island Health’s most vaccinated communities are the southern Gulf Islands of Pender, Galiano, Saturna and Mayne, where 87 per cent of adults have had at least one dose of vaccine.
The rest of the top five are all Greater Victoria communities, led by Sidney, where 79 per cent of adults have had at least one vaccine dose. North Saanich is at 76 per cent, Oak Bay is at 75 per cent and Central Saanich and Royal Oak/Cordova Bay/Prospect are both at 74 per cent.
Rounding out the top 10 are Vancouver Island North at 73 per cent, Oceanside at 72 per cent, V.I. West at 71 per cent and James Bay at 70 per cent.
At the other end of the spectrum, 57 per cent of adults in Cowichan Valley West have received a dose of vaccine.
Island Health reported that on March 27 it surpassed 500,000 first doses of vaccine administered on Vancouver Island.
Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s chief medical health officer, said so far it appears that access to clinics has been the primary factor linked to vaccination rates.
“Looking forward, we will continue to monitor those areas where we are seeing those low rates, studying as to why people are not necessarily embracing the vaccine program and it may be in part that we haven’t made it as accessible as we could and should,” he said.
Stanwick said it’s too early to tell in which areas of the Island invididual choices have been a factor in immunization rates.
“We’re sufficiently busy meeting the general need that it will be a little while before we start focusing on those pockets,” he said.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was asked this week about re-opening B.C. when most adults have received one of their two doses and she said the first dose is what’s most important as far controlling community spread of the virus.
“We know in the real world effectiveness, it is getting as many people that first dose as possible that gets us to the point where we can reduce transmission in the community to the point where it’s manageable and we can start lifting restrictions,” Henry said. “That is independent of the personal protection that we get from a second dose of vaccine.”
As immunizations increase, new COVID-19 cases continue to decline almost everywhere on Vancouver Island.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s latest data, for the week of May 16-22, shows new cases stayed the same or decreased everywhere on the Island except Nanaimo and Sooke.
Alberni-Clayoquot and Cowichan Valley North dropped to no new cases last week.
Greater Nanaimo was the local health area on the Island with the most new cases last week, 26, followed by the Comox Valley with 15 and then Greater Victoria with 13.
Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Wednesday, May 26, that there were 250 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. since the day before, with nine of those cases on Vancouver Island. According to the BCCDC, seven of those new cases were on the central Island, two were on the south Island and two on the north Island.