COVID-19 update for Nov. 23: Seven-day average case count and active cases continue to fall in B.C. | Almost half of Canadians plan to ditch social distancing at holiday gatherings: Poll |

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C.

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B.C. announces vaccine rollout for children ages 5 to 11Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for Nov. 23, 2021.

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We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen.

Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.


B.C.’S COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS

As of the latest figures given on Nov. 23:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 216,012 (3,047 active)
• New cases since Nov. 22: 324
• Total deaths: 2,304 (one additional deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 345
• Intensive care: 115
• Total vaccinations: 4,214,774 received first dose; 4,050,134 second doses
• Recovered from acute infection: 210,478
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 12

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IN-DEPTH:   Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021 | in 2020


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

• COVID-19: Here’s everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus

• COVID-19: B.C.’s vaccine passport is here and this is how it works

• COVID-19: Here’s how to get your vaccination shot in B.C.

• COVID-19: Look up your neighbourhood in our interactive map of case and vaccination rates in B.C.

• COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

• COVID-19: Five things to know about the P1 variant spreading in B.C.

• COVID-19: Here’s where to get tested in Metro Vancouver

• B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool


LATEST NEWS on COVID-19 in B.C.

1:30 p.m. – B.C. announces vaccine rollout for children ages 5 to 11

The B.C. government is rolling out its vaccination program for children ages five to 11 following Health Canada’s approval last week of the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty pediatric vaccine.

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As of Tuesday morning, about 91,000 — or a quarter of B.C.’s 350,000 children in this age group — are already registered, putting them on a list to be contacted for an appointment when booking opens.

Here is what you need to know about getting your child immunized against COVID-19.

Who is eligible?

Children must be at least five years old before they can get a dose of the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.

Children who are 11 and turning 12 before the second dose of the vaccine will receive the pediatric version when they’re 11 followed by the adult dose after they turn 12 years old.

Verbal consent of a parent or legal guardian is required. Written consent will be required if the child is  accompanied to the vaccination clinic by another adult who is not their parent or legal guardian.

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How do I get an appointment?

The first step is to register on the province’s Get Vaccinated site. People can also register by phone at 1-833-838-2323 or at a Service BC office (find a location here ).

Invitations to registered children will be sent out to parents starting Nov. 29, with appointment slots available as early as the same day.

Invitations will be delivered in the same order the children were registered. Appointments are mandatory; drop-ins are not allowed.

Families with multiple children can go together provided each family member has an appointment at the same clinic at some time during the same day.

What is the dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine for kids?

The vaccine used for children ages five to 11 has 10 micrograms per dose — a third of dosage in youth and adult vaccines. Children will need two doses to be considered fully vaccinated.

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The smaller dose has been shown to mount a strong immune response in kids, and could also mean a lower frequency of reactions to the vaccine, such as redness or swelling at the injection site.

While Health Canada advises a minimum 21-day interval between the first and second dose, B.C. plans to follow the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendation of an eight-week interval between doses.

Where will the vaccines be administered?

Clinics will be set up by local health authorities. Some clinics will be designated family clinics, which will cater specifically to this age group, while all-age clinics would have special channels set up for kids. Some school sites will be used before and after school.

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Pediatric vaccines will not be available at pharmacies.

For remote First Nations communities, the pediatric shots will be offered at the same time as booster shots for adults.

How will the clinics make kids comfortable about getting a shot?

Health officials said the vaccines will be dispensed by people experienced in giving out childhood vaccinations. There will also be onsite support for kids with special needs, as well as a calm private space for families who need it or for children who feel anxious around needles.

chchan@postmedia.com

1:30 p.m. – B.C. to announce vaccine rollout for children ages 5 to 11

B.C. officials are set to announce the vaccine rollout for five to 11 year-olds in B.C. later today.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and immunization team lead Dr. Penny Ballem will hold a news conference at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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Last week, Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for the age group, paving the way for first doses to arrive in the country on Sunday.

“After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the department has determined that the benefits of this vaccine for children between five and 11 years of age outweigh the risks,” said the federal health agency in a statement on Friday.

In Ontario, parents can book vaccine appointments for children ages five to 11 starting today. The province has said it expects to start administering the first shots on Thursday.

Majority of Canadians want to scrap molecular tests at border: Angus Reid Institute poll

Canadians are divided over how to test for COVID-19 at the border, according to a new national poll.

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The Angus Reid Institute poll found that the majority of Canadians appear ready to scrap pricey molecular tests, such as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which can cost up to $300 per person.

Only one quarter of respondents said Canada should stay the course and require molecular testing at the border.

The largest segment — nearly 40 per cent — said Canada should switch to rapid antigen tests instead. These tests are less sensitive, but cost as little as $20 and can be performed closer to the travel date as results are available quicker.

Interestingly, about 27 per cent said all testing should be dropped for fully vaccinated travellers at the border, while nine per cent said testing should be dropped for all travellers, regardless of their vaccination status.

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Support for rapid antigen tests is highest in B.C. and Atlantic Canada at 43 per cent.

B.C. also has the highest level of support for eliminating all testing for fully vaccinated travellers at 30 per cent, compared to a national average of 27 per cent.

— Cheryl Chan

Almost half of Canadians plan to ditch social distancing at holiday gatherings: poll

Almost half of Canadians plan to abandon social distancing during holiday gatherings and hug, kiss and shake hands with friends and family, a new poll shows.

The poll by Leger in collaboration with The Canadian Press found that 45% of Canadians say they will “greet others with a handshake, hug or kiss” at Christmas parties and other holiday gatherings.

In Ontario, the number prepared to ditch social distancing over the winter vacation rose to 50%, compared to only 37% in B.C.

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Among 18- to 34-year-olds, the proportion comfortable with hugging friends and relatives over the holidays rose to 52%.

Christian Bourque, Leger’s executive vice-president, said the finding suggested that Canadians may be becoming complacent about the risk of COVID-19 because they are vaccinated.

Forty-nine per cent of Canadians confessed they were not afraid of catching the virus.

“Canadians are showing indications that they are relaxing. Now that there is a fifth wave in Europe, Canadians are indicating that they are heading for a holiday season where they will take too many chances,” Bourque said.

— The Canadian Press

Canada ends COVID-19 policy turning back asylum-seekers between border crossings

Canada is ending its pandemic-era policy of turning back asylum-seekers trying to cross into the country between ports of entry, according to a revised policy document released on Sunday.

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Canada turned at least 544 would-be refugees back to the Unites States between March 2020 and mid-October. The government did not immediately respond to questions regarding why it was ending the policy now and what if any quarantine rules would apply to asylum-seekers who are not vaccinated.

Canada had said the measure was necessary given health concerns during the coronavirus pandemic. But refugee advocates argued attempts to claim asylum should not be considered “discretionary travel” and pointed to class exemptions Canada made during the pandemic for professional athletes, among others.

“It’s a relief to see the measures for refugees align more with our international obligations, and I think it’s been clear all along that public health and refugee protection could coexist,” said Maureen Silcoff, a refugee lawyer and past president of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, which took the government to court over the policy.

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Silcoff said it did not make sense to allow tourists entry, as Canada has begun to do, while barring people seeking protection.

— Reuters


B.C. MAP OF WEEKLY COVID CASE COUNTS, VACCINATION RATES

Find out how your neighbourhood is doing in the battle against COVID-19 with the latest number of new cases, positivity rates, and vaccination rates:


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER



LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information

Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.

• B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

• Vancouver Coastal Health – Information on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

• HealthLink B.C. – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

• B.C. Centre for Disease Control – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

• Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

• World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

–with files from The Canadian Press

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