We’re switching from ‘pandemic’ to ‘endemic’.

That’s according to North Island medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns, as vaccines continue to roll out not just on Vancouver Island, but across B.C. and Canada. 

Dr. Charmaine Enns

While Enns says COVID isn’t be going away, she notes the virus has been ‘defanged.’ She says COVID is going to stick around, but vaccines will help make it another seasonal virus like the flu.

“If you’re vaccinated, it doesn’t have its bite anymore,” Enns says. “…a small percentage of people can still get COVID, but those who do will have very mild disease and they’re less likely to transmit it to others.”

When speaking to Campbell River city council on Monday, Enns said we have a lot to celebrate. At the time, she said around 70 per cent of Campbell Riverites had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with a slightly higher number of people on the North Island – around 71 per cent – now vaccinated with one dose. As for Island Health as a whole, that number jumped to 76 per cent.

Campbell River specifically has seen just under 200 cases of COVID since the start of the pandemic; however, zero cases resulted in death, Enns said.

Reflecting on the past year, with public health orders and restrictions in place, businesses shut down, and loss of life around the world, Enns finds COVID-19 vaccines to be the intervention we’ve been waiting for.

“There is nothing more to wait for, this is it,” she explains. “And we have that intervention and it is very effective.” According to Enns, two doses of vaccine is highly protective, giving us the confidence to go forward. 

“We have to move forward, we can’t stay stuck. It is not a healthy or a good place to be, to be stuck,” Enns adds. “We have to get our lives back, we have to get control of our lives back, we have to get people socializing again and relationships restored, people going to work or to school.”

Today, an Island Health spokesperson told Vista Radio second doses “are not experiencing any unexpected delays or issues with supply.” They say more than 97,000 people within the Island Health region have now received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.