Dr. Bonnie Henry is joined by Dr. Penny Ballem as they arrive to talk about phase 2 in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Dr. Bonnie Henry is joined by Dr. Penny Ballem as they arrive to talk about phase 2 in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Surrey teachers to receive COVID-19 vaccine this week

Surrey is, ‘by far,’ the highest risk area for COVID-19: Dr. Bonnie Henry

Surrey Schools superintendent Jordan Tinney says teachers in the district are to start receiving the COVID-19 vaccine this week.

Tinney tweeted on Tuesday that vaccinations would start March 24, with dozens of schools included in the district’s priority areas.

He said the hope is all school-based staff would have their first dose by April 1.

“With almost 9,000 school-based staff in our district, we made a decision to begin offering appointments to schools in zones that have the highest rates of community transmission first,” he said in an email issued to district staff.

Tinney said priority will be all schools in the Panorama-Sullivan, City Centre and Newton-Fleetwood areas.

He added only school-based staff are currently eligible for the vaccine.

Tinney made the announcement the day after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talked about the virus risk in Surrey.

Henry said the number of cases in Surrey has prompted health officials to consider giving vaccine priority to Surrey educators over other teachers in the province.

Surrey is, “by far,” the highest risk area in the province, Henry said.

“We don’t have enough vaccine to do everyone in the school system right now, so we will be prioritizing where the risk is greatest,” Henry said.

Last week, officials announced frontline workers, including police, firefighters, child-care, grocery store, postal and K-12 education staff would be getting the vaccine in April.

RELATED: Younger people with COVID now requiring longer hospital, ICU stays: Dr. Henry

Henry said teachers are among the focus of immunization due to the disruption caused to society when cohorts of students are requested to isolate. She said school COVID-19 safety plans are effective, and that COVID-19 cases related to the school setting is reflective of the community.

“It’s been particularly a concern in the Surrey school district where we see exposures in schools and it’s very disruptive,” she said.

Henry noted that while the province was looking at prioritizing Surrey teachers, “all of the educators in the school system are a priority group because of the role they play in the education system.”

B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said it’s “such a relief” to learn educators and school staff in the Surrey school district “will begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines in the coming days.”

“As we know, Surrey has been a hot spot for COVID-19 transmission in both community and school settings.”

Henry noted an increase of the B117 (U.K.) variant of the virus, which is more transmissible.

Workplaces and indoor gatherings continue to be the leading venue where the virus is spread.

She also said there’s been a “concerning” increase in the number of younger people ending up in hospital or intensive care due to COVID-19.

“What we’re seeing is that people in our community, younger age groups, requiring hospitalization and needing to be hospitalized for longer periods of time,” Henry said.

So far, about 10.5 per cent of B.C.’s adult population has been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus – a percentage far below what’s needed for herd immunity and that is heavily skewed towards long-term care home residents, seniors and people in isolated communities.

Henry noted that while the risk is still much higher for seniors and other older people, the younger people who are ending up in hospital are requiring more time in the ICU.

“We have seen several young people in their 30s and 40s who’ve unfortunately, tragically, been severely affected by COVID.”

Meanwhile, RCMP officials have described their inclusion in Monday’s vaccine-priority announcement as “great news… for all our officers and employees who have been working in these unforeseen circumstances across the province, on and off the frontlines, throughout the pandemic.”

“We don’t yet have the specifics as to how the vaccine will be rolled out, to whom and when,” said Eric Stubbs, assistant commissioner of criminal operations for the B.C. RCMP, in an emailed statement.

“We look for learning more in the upcoming days, and once we have a greater understanding, we will ensure that our employees are notified first.”

White Rock Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls – noting his officers have not stopped responding during the pandemic – said having frontline officers protected with a vaccine “will also protect the community and the officer’s families from transmission.”

“The officers don’t always have a choice to maintain physical distancing and we interact with many high risk populations and are frequently present in the hospital emergency room for prolonged periods of time,” Pauls told Peace Arch News by email.

“It will be good news once everyone in the community has access to the vaccine.”

– with files from Tracy Holmes

CoronavirusSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dianna Plouffe, right, with Mayor Gladys Atrill in front of Town Hall following the announcement she will be the new CAO> (Facebook photo)
Director of corporate services named Smithers CAO

Dianna Plouffe replaces Alan Harris who is retiring at the end of April

Mabel Todd, 83, of the Nak’azdli First Nation, leads a group of family members and advocates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they walk along the so-called Highway of Tears in Witset. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Province, feds fund full cell service along ‘Highway of Tears’ following years of advocacy

A ‘critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies’ after at least 10 Indigenous women murdered, missing along the route

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Volunteer Robbie McKnight works the screening table at the Coast Mountain College COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)
UPDATE Smithers clinic expands vaccine eligibility to ages 55+

Community members born in 1966 or earlier can now register and will be notified when they can book

Pembina Prince Rupert Terminal shipped its first vessel full of liquefied petroleum gas on April 9, just less than three years after breaking ground at the re-purposed pulp mill site on Watson Island.
Pembina ships first vessel of LPG out of Prince Rupert

More than $12 million spent to repurpose Watson Island for the LPG export facility

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sea lion swims past the window of an empty viewing area Vancouver Aquarium is pictured Thursday, September 10, 2020. The Vancouver Aquarium has had to close its doors to the public due to the lack of visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
U.S.-based theme park company buys Vancouver Aquarium

Aquarium had to shut its doors in September due to COVID pandemic

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

A deep cut on a humpback whale is shown in this recent handout photo in the Vancouver area. A conservation organization is warning boaters to be extra careful to prevent further harm to an injured humpback whale swimming in the Vancouver area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ocean Wise, Vanessa Prigollini *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Boaters urged to use caution around hurt humpback off Vancouver

Ocean Wise says watchers first noticed the wound 3 days ago and believe it was caused by a vessel strike

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

Most Read