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Health minister urges boosters for 53K 'high-risk' B.C. residents who've yet to respond to invites

B.C. health-care system may be overwhelmed amid Omicron surge
About 53,000 British Columbians 70 or older have not responded to invites for COVID-19 booster shots, says the province's health minister.

B.C.’s health minister is urging the province’s “significant number of people in high-risk groups” to follow up on invitations for COVID-19 boosters as the West Coast health-care system faces the possibility of being overwhelmed during the latest wave of the pandemic.

“This is important for you, for your family and for your health, equally,” Adrian Dix said during a Friday briefing, referring to those 70 and older.

About 53,000 British Columbians in that age group have not yet booked appointments for their third doses after receiving an invitation, he said.

Older demographics face a higher risk of succumbing to more severe symptoms leading to hospitalization.

The highly transmissible Omicron variant is behind a record-setting surge in COVID-19 cases, sending 580 people to hospital from Jan. 7-13. A total of 13,768 people had been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic.

The Omicron variant is associated with milder symptoms, but its high transmissibility has been leading to record case numbers even among those who have protection from vaccines.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during the same briefing that those who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 face more serious symptoms against the Omicron variant compared with those who’ve gotten their shots.

Meanwhile, the same week nearly 600 people were sent to hospital with COVID-19, Dix said 319,752 booster doses were administered across the province with 67,723 of those jabs coming on Wednesday.

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