B.C. extends COVID-19 vaccine card program to end of June


British Columbia’s vaccine card program will be extended to June 30 as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to surge in the province, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.

Residents over the age of 12 will need to continue to produce their vaccine cards after they’ve received at least two doses of vaccine at establishments like restaurants.

Henry said if the province is “in a better place” before June, she will make adjustments to end the program earlier, and added she expects it will eventually no longer be necessary.

B.C.’s top doctor said that while case rates and test positivity have levelled off over time following the Omicron-fuelled fifth wave, the number of people hospitalized from coronavirus remains the highest it’s ever been, and is putting “significant strain” on the health-care system.

Henry assured British Columbians that new data surfacing from studies in the U.S. and beyond show that a third booster dose of vaccine gives “good, strong protection” against Omicron, possibly decreasing the risk of contracting the virus by between 50 and 60 per cent.

“It is important and does stop the risk of transmitting the virus to those closest to you,” she said.

In her comments, Henry also revealed that youth sports tournaments, which have been on hold during the Omicron surge, can resume as usual on Feb. 1. However, adults sports tournaments will remain suspended for the time being.

“We have always prioritized making sure that young people are able to access that part of these important aspects of their life,” she said in reply to a question about why she’s given the go-ahead for the tournaments.

“There are timing limits for things like university scholarships that become important.”

The province reported 1,446 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, although officials have said the actual numbers may be up to five times higher because B.C. has reached its testing capacity.

There are 32,468 active cases, with 985 in hospital and 144 in intensive care, said a news release from the Health Ministry.

Henry noted that long-term care and assisted living facilities have also seen a “sharp increase” in number of COVID-19 infections.

There are 63 health-care facilities, many of them long-term care, in the province that have COVID-19 outbreaks. But a combination of vaccines, booster doses and other health guidelines have reduced the risk of severe illness and death, she said.

“This has been a tough go for all of us and it has been changing. We’ve gone through many different iterations of how this virus has affected us over this last two years, and we’re all tired of COVID-19, no one more than me,” she said.

“I think we would all love to be done with COVID, but as much as we would like that, our reality is that the virus is here with us right now and we’re not yet over it.”

With files from The Canadian Press

Watch Dr. Bonnie Henry’s full news conference below:


Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!