B.C. has recorded 199 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours — the third day in a row that the province recorded daily new case numbers below 200.
Two more people in B.C. have died. For the first time in a long while, fewer than 100 cases were recorded in the Fraser Health region, previously considered a hot spot for the virus.
Dr. Reka Gustafson of the BCCDC said she's optimistic about the declining case counts.
"I have often said that immunization is considered to be the greatest public health achievement of the 20th century," she told On the Coast host Gloria Macarenko.
"I think it's really incredible to watch and to reflect on what vaccines have done for us in the past with diseases that we know from history books that we don't see [aymore], like polio, and what it is doing today with an infection that's profoundly changed our lives for the past 16 months."
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday during a live news conference that 71.8 per cent of adults over 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, along with 68.9 per cent of those 12 and up.
Henry provided further information on how B.C. residents will receive their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, reiterating guidelines released earlier this week from the NationaI Advisory Committee on Immunization about mixing certain vaccine types.
Henry said that it is safe and effective to receive a different type of mRNA vaccine for a second dose where necessary because they use similar technology.
"It is always preferable to have the same vaccine for both doses but we now know from the work we've received from the National Advisory Committee … that it is safe and effective to have a different vaccine if you need to," she said.
She said people who received the Moderna vaccine for their first dose may elect to have Pfizer for their second dose, because of a "temporary issue" with Moderna's vaccine supply.
2 options for those who received AstraZeneca
Those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine for their first dose now have a choice, she said. They may either obtain AstraZeneca through a pharmacy for their second dose or receive a second dose of an mRNA vaccine through a mass vaccination clinic.
Henry said the 280,000 people who received a first dose of AstraZeneca made the right choice.
"It was absolutely essential when we had high case rates and increased transmission in March and April," she said.
Henry said the odds of developing a rare blood clot that has been associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine is much lower for the second dose.
She said people must make a personal choice, depending on their level of concern about rare blood clots, though she did recommend receiving the same vaccine.
Henry said early data shows that you are more likely to have non-serious side-effect, like a sore arm, fever, and aches, if you receive a different vaccine for your second shot.
But every combination of vaccines will provide equal protection, she said.
"It's just as good to get a second dose of AstraZeneca or get a second dose of mRNA after having AstraZeneca as a first dose. You should get the second dose with the same vaccine you had your first dose. That's what I would be most comfortable with."
Henry said that people will be contacted by their pharmacy about their second dose of AstraZeneca.
If they decide they prefer to receive an mRNA vaccine for their second dose, they can decline that appointment and wait to receive an invite through the provincial registration system. She urged people not to contact their pharmacies directly, and confirmed shipments of AstraZeneca to pharmacies will begin on Monday.
Health officials are reminding anyone who received their vaccine before April 15 and was not registered with the province's online vaccine registration system should register now to receive an email or text notification of their second dose appointment.
Registration can be done online through the "Get Vaccinated" portal, by calling 1-833-838-2323, or in person at any Service B.C. location for those who received a first dose before mid-April, or still need their initial shot.
Children aged 12 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and can also be registered through the online portal.
For Canadians who have had a first dose of Moderna or Pfizer, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization now recommends they can take either of the two shots as a second dose because they both use a similar mRNA technology.
Provincial reopening progress
B.C. residents are currently permitted to dine out, hit the gym for low-intensity workouts, play outdoor sports and hold faith-based gatherings in person — though all of those activities still have to happen on a smaller scale with safety protocols in place.
Masks and physical distancing measures remain mandatory. Recreational travel is allowed, but still only within the province's three regional health zones.
British Columbians are still not permitted to travel outside of designated health regions, but the province is preparing to reopen in stages until virtually all restrictions are lifted by September.
Henry said officials will slow down the reopening if concerning outbreaks or case clusters arise, but only for as long as necessary to allow public health to manage those cases.