The City of Prince Rupert will be undergoing community-wide vaccination in the coming weeks to curb high COVID-19 case rates and transmission.
Northern Health made the announcement on Tuesday, adding that the approach had been approved by the Ministry of Health and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“Prince Rupert has a high COVID-19 case rate and high positivity rate, that has not seen the improvements in recent weeks that are occurring elsewhere in the region,” Northern Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Jong Kim explained in a statement.
“Quickly vaccinating the entire community is a great way to protect everyone in Prince Rupert, and keep them safe.”
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Starting this Friday, residents of Prince Rupert between the ages of 65 to 90 and above will be able to book their vaccination by phone. Registration for 50 to 64-year-olds, 40 to 49-year-olds, and 18 to 39-year-olds will open shortly after.
Anyone above the age of 18 in Prince Rupert will be able to book an appointment starting March 18, and vaccinations will take place between March 15 and April 1.
Epidemiological data from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) shows that Northern Health has some of the highest case rates per 100,000 residents, surpassing both Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health in recent weeks.
Prince Rupert City Councillor Blair Mirau tells Daily Hive that they’ve struggled “with some of the highest per capita case counts in BC,” which is displayed in recent data reports showing COVID-19 case counts by local health areas.
Most recently, public health has been monitoring a COVID-19 outbreak at Prince Rupert’s Acropolis Manor. Since the outbreak was declared on January 19, 33 residents and 23 staff have tested positive for the virus, and 14 residents have passed away.
Prince Rupert also has some of the highest rates of poverty and vulnerability indicators in BC, and it has the second-highest proportion of Indigenous residents of any Canadian city other than Winnipeg.
Mirau also responded to statements suggesting that the community is being “rewarded for bad behaviour,” arguing that they’ve been one of the most diligent municipalities from the start.
“When the pandemic was first declared, Prince Rupert was one of the few (if not the only) municipality to declare a local state of emergency that was subsequently rescinded by the Province,” he explains, noting that a 14-day self-isolation period was introduced for anyone who left the city.
“Since the pandemic was declared, our city has been diligent in following the recommendations of Dr. Bonnie Henry, with very few exceptions. This is evidenced in the fact that we had virtually zero confirmed cases of community transmission almost until the end of 2020.”
Mirau also stresses that Prince Rupert doesn’t “have access to the same level of healthcare services as the Lower Mainland.”
“That’s exactly why our community has taken this pandemic so seriously from the very beginning.”