Peace River South has the lowest percentage of vaccinated residents in B.C., 53 per cent, and has the highest rate of infection.
Peace River North has the second lowest percentage of vaccinated residents in B.C., 55 per cent, and has the second highest rate of infection.
When I looked at the lagging vaccination rate and wrote a while back that this was coming for the North, some people had some not-very-nice things to say.
But it’s the most predictable, avoidable disaster unfolding right now in an area of the province known and loved for its by-your-own-bootstraps-and-to-your-own-tune character.
The region’s hospitals are overwhelmed. Patients have been transferred to hospitals outside the health region to ease pressure.
Northern Health has put in place additional restrictions in those regions where vaccination rates remain stubbornly low, led by Peace River north and south and Fort Nelson, effective midnight Thursday. Those measures, which include limiting indoor personal gatherings to five vaccinated people and suspending in-person worship services, do not apply to areas with higher vaccination rates.
Localized consequences is a good approach that worked in Kelowna and the Interior over the summer, and should help northeastern B.C. boost vaccination rates.
As the CEO of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, Todd Corrigall, said on Twitter: “It’s becoming tiresome that a small percentage of the population seems determined to impact the lives of many.”
When your family and neighbours have to pay the consequences for your actions, those actions tend to get a lot more thoughtful.
Not all of those who are not fully vaccinated are anti-vaxxers. Some are hesitant; some are procrastinators; some are just willing to go with the conspiracy-theory flow.
If they can’t go to in-person church services or bars and nightclubs, fence-sitters just might fall on the side of caution.
As Mr. Corrigall points out, some businesses have been forced to close their doors. If residents continue to ignore the vaccine mandate, some businesses may close permanently.
Peace River South MLA has disclosed that he’s received death threats over his support for proof-of-vaccination measures. He still supports them.
“Hospitals in Northern Health are overstretched as beds become filled with COVID-19 patients, primarily unvaccinated. People needing critical care are being transferred to other regions of the province. Everyone needs to get immunized to help keep our hospitals open for treating people with other illnesses,” said Northern Health chief medical health officer Dr. Jong Kim.
“Until more people make the choice to get vaccinated, we need to ensure we have orders in place to protect the most vulnerable and limit the spread.”
I should point out that where I live, in the South Cariboo, we’re still below the province’s 85 per cent vaccination rate.
I was at a gathering not long ago where I spent some time chatting with a woman from my area. It was a wellness-centred gathering, and at the end of the night she began to unburden herself about trouble she was having with her teenage daughter.
The girl insisted on being vaccinated, it seemed, and she just wouldn’t listen to reason.
When this is all over, I never again want to hear Gen Z referred to as the snowflake generation.
The measures in the Peace River region will remain in place until Nov. 19 and may be extended if cases remain high and vaccination rates low.
Dene Moore is an award-winning journalist and writer. A news editor and reporter for The Canadian Press news agency for 16 years, Moore is now a freelance journalist living in the South Cariboo.
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