Graph tracks infections of long-term care home residents after they get their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, Dec. 15, 2020 to Feb. 15, 2021. Infections fell off sharply after three weeks. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

Graph tracks infections of long-term care home residents after they get their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, Dec. 15, 2020 to Feb. 15, 2021. Infections fell off sharply after three weeks. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

COVID-19 vaccine protects health staff, seniors best after three weeks

B.C. data show new infections dropped rapidly after first jab

There was a brief wave of worry in B.C. this week when provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported that a COVID-19 outbreak at a Kelowna senior care home included new infections in people who have been vaccinated twice.

While seniors and their caregivers aren’t perfectly protected by vaccination, the effect has been dramatic since nurses, care aides and long-term care home residents reached three weeks after receiving their first doses. Data released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control Thursday tracked new infections of all B.C. health care workers, and also residents of long-term care, assisted living and independent living facilities.

From Dec. 15, 2020 to Feb. 15, 2021, there were 203 coronavirus cases confirmed in long-term care homes, and 89 per cent of them occurred in the first 21 days after the vaccine was administered. After immune systems have three weeks to adjust to the vaccine, new infections all but disappear.

A similar trend is seen in data from health care workers over the same period. With employees subject to the risk of community exposure as well as at work, there were 346 new cases from Dec. 15 to Feb. 15 among B.C. health care workers. Again, 86 per cent of those infections occurred before each staffer reached 21 days with vaccine in their system, dropping to almost none afterward.

RELATED: Kelowna care home outbreak includes vaccinated people

RELATED: AstraZeneca vaccine safe, being used in B.C. this week

Henry said those results were key to her decision to extend the maximum time between shots up to four months. After some initial objections, federal health experts have endorsed the move.

“This work has allowed us to understand the protection that we get, even in situations like long-term care homes with our most vulnerable of seniors and elders, that we can have excellent protection from a single dose,” Henry said in presenting the latest modelling data March 11. “And that is what has supported us to be able to make that really important decision to extend the interval for second doses so that we can protect more people more quickly, and win that race that we are in right now.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shannon Claypool, president of the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association, stands outside the Cloverdale Rec. Centre. The rec. centre has been set up as a mass vaccination site by Fraser Health and the Association has decided to cancel the rodeo in order to offer the fairgrounds for public parking. (Submitted)
Cloverdale Rodeo cancelled

Fairgrounds to be used as public parking for mass vaccination site at Cloverdale Rec. Centre

Surrey city council chambers. (File photo)
Surrey drugstores seeking relaxation of spacing rules ‘a challenge,’ councillor says

‘Obviously we need pharmacies but it seems to me that we are getting an awful lot of applications,’ Brenda Locke says

News Bulletin file photo
Surrey waives outdoor patio fees for pubs, restaurants

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, praised the move

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media file)
Man charged after pushing pregnant woman to the ground in Surrey, police say

Surrey RCMP say it appeared to be an ‘unprovoked assault’

A sign posted to a tree in Maccaud Park urges people to email White Rock City Council and oppose the construction of pickleball courts in the park. (Contributed photo)
White Rock council deems Maccaud Park pickleball courts out of bounds

Unanimous vote against constructing courts follows public feedback

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been set up at local mosques. (Submitted photo: Rufaida Mohammed)
Getting the vaccine does not break your fast, says Muslim COVID-19 task force

Muslim community ‘strongly’ encouraging people to get their shot, whether or not during Ramadan

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
100+ international travellers who landed in B.C. refused to quarantine

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it issued $3,000 violation tickets to each

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up on home ownership entirely

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. urges people to stay in their neighbourhoods, discourages out-of-household meet-ups

Dr. Bonnie Henry says there should be no travel, even to the next city over

Looking east at the Cascade Range with the potential Alpine Village site in the foreground. Mt. Archibald rises on the left.
Ambitious all-season mountain resort proposed near Chilliwack

Proponents say Bridal Veil Mountain Resort could cover 11,500 acres bring in $252 million a year

Most Read