Smithers Interior News Editorial

Smithers Interior News Editorial

A disappointing uptake

Smithers lags way behind the province and other Northwest local health areas in vaccination rate

Did you ever notice that pretty much every one of us over the age of 49 has a small more or less circular scar on our left shoulder, but people under that age don’t?

Many of us who were born in the 1960s or before, grew up with someone whose legs were deformed and had to walk with the assistance of leg braces and crutches because they had contracted polio in the late 1950s.

Many of us also suffered through the very painful and dangerous experience of having mumps.

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You just don’t see any of that anymore, nor the suffering and loss of life caused by measles, Diptheria, tuberculosis, yellow fever, typhoid, cholera, pertussis and even leprosy, in Canada, not that long ago.

Vaccines work.

The Smithers area was very lucky, or the people were responsible enough in taking appropriate measures (probably a bit of both), that we never really experienced the devastation COVID-19 wrought elsewhere.

This summer, those measures and a vaccine for COVID, has allowed life to more or less return to normal in the Bulkley Valley.

But that doesn’t mean the pandemic cannot return. In fact, we are already seeing it happen in some places.

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Guess what places those are. Primarily, it is where vaccination rates are low.

It is very disappointing to see that the Smithers Local Health Area (LHA) has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the province at 65 per cent overall broken down to 71 per cent of eligible residents in Smithers Town Centre, 61 per cent in Smithers Rural and 65 per cent in Houston having received a first dose.

And that appears to be around where we are going to plateau.

We know that because while the Smithers LHA is lagging way behind the provincial average (80 per cent) and most of the other LHAs in the Northwest in first shots, we are pretty much on par for second shots.

It is the same pattern we see everywhere. Nobody ever expected to see 100 per cent coverage, but surely 85 per cent, like Kitimat and Haida Gwaii — well within the range to bestow herd immunity — was not an unrealistic goal for Smithers.

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