Island Health surpasses 500,000 first dose vaccine milestone

Island Health and our partners are celebrating another historic milestone, now that more than half a million residents have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This milestone was reached on May 27.

“As the number of people we vaccinate continues to rise, the level of protection against this virus grows daily,” says Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer. “Our teams and partners are working hard to get vaccine doses into arms and we should all feel optimistic about how setting this historic record is helping in our fight against COVID-19.”

In December 2020, Island Health began administering the COVID-19 vaccine, starting in Phase 1 with health care workers at a single clinic in Victoria, expanding to include health care worker clinics in communities throughout the region, as well as directly in places like long-term care homes and assisted living sites. 

Since then we have immunized 506,251 people (65% of the 12+ population in Island Health’s region) with their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 29,773 with their second. 

First-dose vaccine eligibility is expanding with increasing speed. Today, the program is firmly in Phase 3, with people aged 12 and over being booked to receive their vaccines at 17 clinic sites across the region. 

“This is a really important milestone for us, but we’re not done yet,” said Stanwick. “We are thankful to everyone who has chosen to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community.  We all have a part to play and every dose administered gets us closer to controlling the spread of this virus.” 

Everyone who is 12 or older in BC can register for their vaccine. Visit www.getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca or call 1-833-838-2323 to register. 

Dr. Stanwick will be available to speak to media via Zoom at 2 p.m. on May 28. Please RSVP to Dominic.abassi@viha.ca to receive the link. 

Highlights of Island Health’s COVID-19 vaccination program

  • In the last week, Island Health has increased immunizations at community clinics to approximately 9,000 doses per day.
  • We have completed clinics in 28 rural and remote locations for individuals 18+ through Island Health’s Whole Community Approach. Locations include the Gulf Islands, North Island and West Coast. These clinics were strongly supported by a wide variety of community partners, from service clubs to regional districts to volunteer fire departments and local volunteers. Second dose clinics are now being scheduled for these communities. 
  • In collaboration with First Nations and First Nations Health Authority, more than 11,500 people in approximately 50 First Nations communities received a first dose. This includes rural and remote as well as urban First Nations communities. Second dose clinics are now underway in these communities.   
  • More than 9,000 residents and over 11,000 staff of 115 long-term care and assisted living homes, as well as more than 1,600 essential visitors, are receiving their second doses of vaccine.  
  • More than 27,000 healthcare workers and medical staff who were prioritized in Phases 1 and 2 of the Province’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan have received their first doses and many have already received a second dose.
  • Community Health Nurses have provided more than 2,800 in-home vaccinations for home support clients who are unable to leave their homes. 
  • In collaboration with community partners we have reached approximately 55% of the Island’s estimated population of people who are unhoused or use shelters. This work involved outreach to shelters, soup kitchens, park encampments and even a laundromat.
  • Island Health has expanded our teams of clinic staff and immunizers to successfully provide first doses to all eligible individuals who want the vaccine before the end of June.
  • More than 375 volunteers are working to assist people at immunization clinics. 
  • Hundreds of immunizers from different specialities - including nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, midwives, medical students, pharmacists, dental hygienists, dentists, naturopaths, community paramedics, and firefighters have joined the vaccination effort.