B.C.’s top doctor is urging British Columbians who have recovered from COVID-19 to get vaccinated against the virus to ensure the best immunity response and stymy the spread of infection.
This comes amid recent studies from Israel showing evidence that people’s immune response to the virus remains significant among those who have recovered from COVID-19.
But B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a Tuesday briefing antibody levels among recoverees can be “very varied” and that those who’ve already been infected with COVID-19 will receive more reliable protection from the virus by also getting fully vaccinated.
About 175,000 British Columbians have recovered from COVID-19 — about 3.5% of the province’s population.
Meanwhile, Henry took an extended period during the briefing to address concerns over vaccinations during pregnancy.
“It is highly recommended pregnant women get their vaccine as soon as possible [and] preferably if you’re planning on getting pregnant to have the vaccine before,” she said.
While the vaccine won’t result in major side effects, Henry said unvaccinated pregnant women are at far more risk of ending up hospitalized or in an intensive care unit if they contract COVID-19.
She also stressed there is no increased risk of miscarriages, stillbirths or birth defects as a result of pregnant women getting vaccinated.
Pregnant women were not part of the clinical trials for vaccines targeting COVID-19 but the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada has previously come out in support of the vaccines.
With late-stage studies of the effects of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine on children 6-11 wrapping up, Henry said a “data package” on the vaccine’s efficacy is expected to be delivered in the next few weeks.
“Our immunization teams across the province are actively preparing to be able to offer this vaccine” to children 6-11 when given approval in Canada, she said.
Henry also confirmed more details would be coming by week’s end about how to notify parents of any school exposures to COVID-19 in a “timely, less intrusive and more sustainable way.”
The updates from B.C.’s top doctor come as the deadline approaches for health-care workers throughout the province to be fully vaccinated if they wish to hold onto their jobs.
Henry revealed plans last week for a new order requiring vaccinations by October 26 for all health-care workers.
A separate provincial order issued last month requires workers at assisted living and long-term care facilities to be fully vaccinated by October 12.
When asked about contingency plans in the event many of these health-care workers decide to depart rather than get vaccinated, Henry said she is confident about higher levels of immunization that already exists among those workers.
“I don’t believe there are thousands of nurses who are going to be impacted. I certainly get a lot of strong, positive support for this from those very nurses who are on the frontlines,” she said.