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The BC Vaccine Card program will be extended into the summer, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced this afternoon.
The PHO said that the program will now be in effect until June 30, 2022, and will continue to apply to people over the age of 12.
However, Henry added that she will look at making adjustments or scrapping the program prior to the end of June if the province is in a better place before then.
Even as BC continues to see a gradual decline in case rates and a levelling off of the test positivity rate that spiked during the Omicron wave, the number of COVID-positive people in hospital remains at a record high.
As of today, there are 985 COVID-positive people in hospital in BC, with 144 in intensive care.
For that reason, Henry stressed the need to continue measures in the community that help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which includes the BC Vaccine Card.
It also includes the current PHO restrictions in place like capacity limits at larger venues, the closure of nightclubs, a mask mandate and COVID-19 safety plans for businesses.
Those are all in place until Feb. 16, but the PHO announced today that one significant restriction will be lifted prior to that.
Youth sports tournaments will be allowed to resume again starting on Feb. 1.
“As we do start to see the gradual decline in cases in our community combined with the increase in vaccination in children of all ages, I will be making some changes to the restrictions on youth sports tournaments,” Henry said.
“I know this is an important time of the year for many different sports, especially team sports, and we’ve been working with organizers and with viaSport to make sure that this can be done in a safe way.”
BC’s top doctor said that youth tournament organizers can start planning in anticipation of this change next week, but adult tournaments will remain paused for now.
Henry once again stressed during today's briefing that vaccinations remain the number one tool in our fight against COVID-19, along with safety measures like masks, distancing, staying home when sick and washing hands.
She dispelled the notion that vaccinations do not protect people against Omicron, citing recently published studies out of the United States, Japan, South Korea and Ontario that show a booster dose gives strong protection against Omicron.
"It boosts up that protection for severe disease and hospitalization, but it also decreases your risk of contracting the virus, probably by 50-60%," Henry explained.
"So it’s not 100%, it’s not as high as we saw with all of the other strains we’ve seen and particularly that really important protection against the severeness of Delta, but it is important and it does stop your risk of transmitting to those who are closest to you and your risk of contracting it yourself."
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