BC MLA says ‘Alberta impact’ is a factor in lower COVID-19 vaccination rates in the north

Politicians accustomed to sparring in British Columbia lawmakers have rallied outside the House to push for higher vaccination rates in the north, but a longtime member of the Opposition Liberals says the “Alberta influence” is a factor in a part of BC, where intensive care units cannot accommodate the influx of COVID-19 patients.

Mike Bernier said the proximity to neighboring Alberta “set us back from day one” when it comes to some northerners avoiding vaccination.

“It would be the Alberta influence. A good portion of people in Dawson Creek, Pouce Coupe, Fort St. The John area, is very closely related, whether for personal reasons or through work, with Alberta, ”he said. “And we’ve seen the problems in Alberta with a solid message about trying to get people vaccinated until recently and the crisis they’re in.”

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Bernier said some were so angry when BC introduced vaccine passports that they posted online messages about shooting him to support the policy.

Most residents of the BC region are not anti-waxers, Bernier said.

“They are strong-willed and do not like the government’s intervention. They just want to work and raise their families and are very skeptical that officials in general tell them what to do. ”

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Bernier, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 two days before his appointment to a first dose of a vaccine in May last year, has firmly decided on vaccination and made him a target for threats.

About 100 people gathered last month outside his office in Dawson Creek, where Northern Health says 55 percent of those eligible had received a second dose on Tuesday. BC’s overall vaccination rate was about 82 percent Thursday.

“I was contacted by the RCMP because they had made a great Facebook rally page and someone went there about 10 minutes in advance and said‘ perfect, now we know where he is. Let’s get our guns and go and shoot this guy so we don’t have to listen to him anymore, ”Bernier said.

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“I can not support the message of what I know and think is right for people in my region. And you know, no one wants to scare me off just by making some threats. ”


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Why parts of Alberta are experiencing extremely low COVID-19 vaccination rates


Why parts of Alberta see extremely low COVID-19 vaccination rates-15. September 2021

Bernier responded to the crowd by standing behind a pickup and saying that such online comments make the work of people in public life more difficult as they try to represent all components.

Premier John Horgan praised Bernier and his colleague Dan Davies, whose Peace River North riding includes Fort St. John, at a press conference Thursday for their vigilance in encouraging vaccination.

Health Minister Adrian Dix has also publicly thanked Bernier and Davies along with local mayors.

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While the province’s health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and politicians on opposite sides of the law are calling for more people to be vaccinated, at least one northern region mayor has questioned whether the high number of admissions is actually due to people being vaccinated.

Pouce Coupe Mayor Lorraine Michetti said politicians create divisions in a community by encouraging people to be vaccinated because it is a personal choice.

“People have paid property taxes, they have paid income taxes. They have the right not to be vaccinated if they do not want to be, ”Michetti said in an interview, adding that she is fully vaccinated.

In the case of First Nations, there are other reasons for lower vaccination rates.

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Dr. Shannon McDonald, chief medical officer of the First Nations Health Authority, said indigenous peoples who have not been vaccinated “have indeed continued a historical distrust of the government, in general, of health systems”, noting anti-native racism in British Columbia’s health care system as described in a report earlier this year was “triggering”.

McDonald said the number of COVID-19 cases has increased dramatically in the 203 communities across the province where it is responsible, going from 10 to 15 a day in mid-August to 256 after Labor Day weekend. 52 of these communities are located in the northern BC.

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McDonald said there are lower vaccination rates among those in the 19- to 39-year-old age groups in these communities, where it stands at “mid-50s to 60s.”

The health authority has recently changed tactics to raise vaccination rates, go from mass clinics to having vaccine doses available in the community at all times, so people who come to regular medical appointments can have their questions answered and decide if they want to be vaccinated on the spot. .

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