Making an impact with VCH’s immunization campaigns
As the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic changed over the past year, the critical importance of vaccines as a tool to control the spread of infectious diseases has only grown more evident. Immunization continues to be a top priority for VCH’s Public Health team, and for VCH overall.
While the focus in 2021 was largely on delivering the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines to VCH residents aged 12 and older; in 2022, the goals of the campaign became broader and the campaign more complex. Eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines expanded to include infants and children, and we administered booster doses to those aged 12 and up.
VCH has the highest overall COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the province:
More than 90%
We also resumed administrating routine childhood immunization clinics in schools that had been paused in the first year of the pandemic. The majority of children have been caught up on important vaccinations to protect them from infections and diseases like polio, diphtheria, measles and rubella.
The most impactful immunization campaign in 2022 was the one to protect against the spread of mpox (monkeypox). In mid-May, a strain of the virus spread from Africa — where it is endemic — to more than 70 countries where it is not, including Canada. The pattern of spread in this global outbreak is primarily human-to-human, sexually associated transmission, with most cases identified among men who have sex with men.
Delivering more than 20,000 doses of mpox vaccine over a three-month period
The first case of mpox in B.C. was confirmed in the VCH region in early June, and with Pride season quickly approaching, the VCH Mpox Outbreak Response Team partnered closely with the BC Centre for Disease Control, community-based organizations and others to deliver more than 20,000 doses of mpox vaccine to those at risk over a three-month period in clinics, bars, sex-on-premise venues, beaches, parks and at Vancouver’s pride festival.
This early use of vaccine among groups who are at the highest risk of spread, along with case and contact tracing efforts by VCH’s Public Health team, successfully reduced transmission, prevented severe illness and limited risk to the wider population. With only 190 cases reported in B.C. (151 in the VCH region), and low levels of the virus circulating, the local mpox outbreak was declared over in January 2023. The vaccine is still available for at-risk, eligible individuals who wish to start or complete their vaccine series. Two doses are recommended for maximum protection.