The Saanich Peninsula is leading the way when it comes to first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Vancouver Island, according to data from the BC Centre for Disease Control.
As of May 24, 75 per cent of eligible adults on the Saanich Peninsula had received their first doses of vaccine, higher than any other local health area on Vancouver Island.
Northern Vancouver Island, including Port Hardy and Port Alice, as well as the Southern Gulf Islands are not far behind with 73 per cent of adults vaccinated with their first dose.
All local health areas had at least 60 per cent of eligible adults vaccinated except for Cowichan Valley West — which includes Lake Cowichan, Youbou, Mesachie Lake and Honeymoon Bay — with 57 per cent having received their first dose.
The provincial vaccination rate for adults 18+ is 65.8 per cent.
On the South Island, the Southern Gulf Island communities of Pender, Galiano, Mayne and Saturna islands are by far the most vaccinated with 87 per cent of eligible residents receiving their first dose.
That's followed by Sidney (79%), North Saanich (76%) and Oak Bay (75%).
Once again, most communities on the South Island have seen at least 60 per cent of adults receive their first dose of vaccine except for three.
Some 59 per cent of Sooke residents have received their first dose, while that number is 58 per cent in downtown Victoria and Vic West as well as in communities on the Juan De Fuca coast including Shirley, Jordan River, Port Renfrew and Pacheedaht.
Health officials say the discrepancy in vaccination rates likely comes down to access. Areas that hosted community-wide clinics have higher numbers while rural communities like Sooke and those with marginalized populations like downtown Victoria would have a harder time with access.
It's leading Island Health to look at new approaches in how it gets people into clinics.
"What other ways can we make it easier for people to get vaccinated?" said Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick. "Where we accomodate as much as possible those people who do want to get immunized, but the way we're doing it doesn't really mesh with their lifestyle?"
Meanwhile, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Thursday that the interval between first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines would be shortened from 16 weeks to eight weeks.
Henry said she anticipates that every eligible person in the province will be able to receive their second dose of vaccine by the end of the summer, in time for Step 4 of the province's restart plan.
With files from CHEK's April Lawrence.