Despite new public health restrictions in B.C., the province does not expect daily case counts to take a significant drop over the next month.
Officials instead believe the more likely scenario is a plateauing of cases and hospitalizations similar to what the province is currently seeing, or a slight increase, according to modelling released Tuesday.
The numbers presented by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix suggest that in order to bring case counts and hospitalizations down before October, the vaccination rate will need to increase by an average of seven per cent across all age groups.
The modelling showed case counts continue to be highest in areas where vaccine uptake is lowest.
"This has become a pandemic that is spreading rapidly among pockets of people who are unvaccinated," Henry said during a news conference.
"A modest increase in immunization can make a big difference."
The risk of hospitalization goes up dramatically for those without their shots. Adjusted for age but not population, unvaccinated people are 17 times more likely to end up in hospital, compared to those who are fully vaccinated.
COVID-19 in British Columbia by the numbers
Total cases throughout pandemic
The data released Tuesday also showed the total number of cases seen in each city over the course of the entire pandemic, from January 2020 to July 2021.
Surrey topped the list with 37,800 cases. Abbotsford was a distant second with just over 9,100, followed by Burnaby at 8,300.
But in the last month, the highest numbers of cases have been in communities across the Interior.
B.C.'s current reproductive rate is hovering around one, which means every person who contracts COVID-19 infects an average of one other person.
The modelling did not offer any projections past the end of September. The province said it will no longer be providing modelling beyond one month because "extrapolating too far into the future leads to highly uncertain or erroneous conclusions," according to a presentation.
Vaccinations before back-to-school
The province said there are roughly 600,000 children in B.C. who are not old enough to be eligible for immunization.
Henry said anyone in the province with connections to children under 12 should get vaccinated before school returns on Sept. 7.
"We expect that vaccination for the 6-11 year olds will be coming, hopefully, soon in the fall," Henry said.
"[Until then], those are the people that the rest of us need to protect," she said, acknowledging back-to-school will bring anxiety for many this year.
"Your child's risk is directly related to the risk in their family, to the adults in their family, to the siblings in their family."
The health officer said COVID-19 cases among young children in the province have risen only slightly and very few children have been hospitalized, but that everyone from parents to school staff and bus drivers should be fully vaccinated.
In total, seven children under the age of 10 have been hospitalized since July 1. One of those children was admitted to the ICU.
All have since recovered.
1,853 new cases over the weekend
On Monday, the province reported seven more deaths and 1,853 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed over a three-day period from Friday to Monday.
From Friday to Saturday, there were 769 cases, but the number dropped to 503 on Sunday to Monday.
There were 5,918 active infections across the province, of which nearly 41 per cent were located in the Interior Health region.
More than 28 per cent were reported in the Fraser Health region. The province said lower vaccination rates in Chilliwack and Hope have led to slightly more cases in the area.
People between the ages of 19 and 39, who were among the last to be eligible for vaccinations under the province's age-based rollout, are driving the rise in cases.
Of the province's active cases, 176 people were in hospital and 91 were in intensive care.
A statement said people who hadn't received a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine accounted for more than 71 per cent of the province's cases and 79 per cent of hospitalizations between Aug. 13 and Aug. 27.