Interior Health nurse Joey Willis fills a needle with a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press Media file photo)

Interior Health nurse Joey Willis fills a needle with a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press Media file photo)

‘Now is the time to be urgent’: Salmon Arm mayor wants vaccination numbers higher

Revelstoke leads Interior towns in terms of population vaccinated, Vernon and Salmon Arm rates lower

Now is the time to get urgent about being vaccinated, not when a COVID-19 wave rolls through in October.

Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison emphasized that message when reviewing vaccination numbers.

According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, Salmon Arm sits at the lower end of the pack in terms of percentage of citizens vaccinated in the Interior.

Statistics up to July 27 show 70 per cent of citizens 12 years and up in the Salmon Arm health area, which includes Sicamous, Sorrento and other smaller communities, have received a first vaccination and 58 per cent have had a second.

Revelstoke, which had an outbreak early in the pandemic and subsequent vaccination clinics, is leading the region with 85 per cent of its population having had their first vaccine and 71 per cent with the second.

At the other end of the scale is Enderby with 60 and 49 per cent for first and second vaccines respectively.

Vernon is close to Salmon Arm with 73 and 59 per cent, as is Princeton with 74 and 58 per cent.

The Central Okanagan is in the same range – 75 per cent with the first vaccine and 57 per cent with the second.

Kamloops is a little higher: 77 and 62 per cent, while Penticton and Summerland are higher yet. Penticton’s numbers are 78 and 67 per cent, while Summerland’s are 79 and 68 per cent.

Armstrong/Spallumcheen is on the lower end near Enderby – 66 per cent with the first vaccine and 52 per cent with the second.

Read more: Immunization clinic gets underway at Salmon Arm recreation centre

Read more: Interior Health leads recent provincial COVID-19 case counts

Harrison said the Salmon Arm health area has been lucky with just 350 cases of COVID-19 throughout the whole pandemic, but that makes it easy to become complacent.

“I think there’s probably about 15 per cent of the people who are – I wouldn’t call it vaccine hesitancy, I would call it vaccine complacency.”

Harrison said he agrees with Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, that the people who are anti-vaccine are a small portion, probably five per cent, of the population.

It’s easy to get vaccinated in Salmon Arm, he said, with the recreation centre vaccinating about 350 to 400 people a day, six days a week. Anyone can now walk in with their medical card and get a first or second dose without making an appointment.

The centre is open Mondays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Saturday from 10:10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It is closed daily from noon until 1 p.m.

An Interior Health spokesperson reiterated: “Our best defence against rising cases of COVID-19 across the Interior remains getting vaccinated.”

Harrison doesn’t want to see the community have to go back to restrictions if cases increase, like the Central Okanagan recently. He noted the virus is still around and he’d like to see more than 80 per cent of citizens in the area vaccinated.

“I say, now is the time to be urgent. If we wait for October and for something to happen, it’s going to be too late.”
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