There are now 12 confirmed cases of the new Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, nicknamed ‘Kraken’, in B.C.
But several health officials admit that number’s likely much higher, as the strain continues to become dominant in the United States.
It comes as the rates for fourth boosters, with the bivalent vaccine that specifically protects against Omicron subvariants, remain dramatically low in most age groups in B.C.
Only about half (54%) of some of the most vulnerable, those 60 to 69, have their booster. Just 27 per cent of those 40 to 49 have it, and 18 to 29-year-olds, who had among the highest rates for first shots, are sitting at just 13 per cent for fourth boosters. The numbers for all age groups are slightly better in Island Health.
“There are in B.C. about a million people who have received two doses against COVID-19 in the 2021 and 2022 years but haven’t received their booster dose, and I encourage them to get it,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix Friday.
Dix admits more can be done to raise the vaccination rates and one family doctor who belongs to the group Protect our Province BC says that’s exactly what public health officials should be doing.
“I think the problem is if the messaging coming from public health is that the pandemic is over, COVID is mild, it’s just a cold, everything is fine, then it’s not going to give people a lot of impetus to want to get out there and get vaccinated,” said Dr. Karina Zeidler.
Zeidler also says the current system for registering and booking appointments and actually getting vaccinated is onerous and could be streamlined.
“You need to make it easy for people to drop in clinics, go to people’s workplaces, go to the schools.”
As ‘Kraken’ becomes the most transmissible COVID-19 variant yet, officials say to prevent serious illness and keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed, vaccination with the bivalent booster is critical.