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Fraser Health, youth should get priority vaccines says Vancouver physician

Last Updated Apr 12, 2021 at 12:36 pm PDT

Cole Smith receives a Moderna variant vaccine shot from clinical research nurse Tigisty Girmay at Emory University's Hope Clinic, on Wednesday afternoon, March 31, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Smith, who received Moderna's original vaccine a year ago in a first-stage study, said returning wasn’t a tough decision. “The earlier one, it was a great success and, you know, millions of people are getting vaccinated now. ... If we’re helping people with the old one, why not volunteer and help people with the new one?” (AP Photo/Ben Gray)
Summary

A Vancouver physician says Fraser Health and young people should get priority for the COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Birinder Narang says young people are not only at risk of getting COVID-19, but also more likely to spread it

His comments come as adults living and working in Whistler can now book a vaccine appointment

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A Vancouver family physician is questioning why people in Fraser Health and younger people are not being prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations since they are both big drivers of the spread of the virus.

Dr. Birinder Narang agrees with the decision to immunize all adults living and working in Whistler, and thinks many factors make residents in Surrey more at risk to contracting the virus.

“There’s still people working essential, front-line jobs, there are still people who don’t have financial security or don’t have the ability to work from home and are living in multi-generational settings increasing everyone’s risk,” he said. “What I’m asking for and I’m sure other people are asking for as well, is other places that we have identified as increased at risk and are consistently at high risk should also be prioritized on a community level.”

Narang admits the populations and densities of Whistler and Surrey are very different. In addition, the decision to extend the vaccination to all adults in Whistler was largely based on the spread of COVID-19 variants.

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Narang also explains the province’s age-based approach does not ensure that those who are most at risk of contracting the virus are being protected — and a priority should be given to younger demographics as well.

“By vaccinating youth or essential frontline workers, it’s still protecting the vulnerable because by vaccinating people that are at increased risk of contracting and transmitting the virus, you’re indirectly also protecting the people who are vulnerable.”

Narang admits this is not a popular opinion.

“It doesn’t obviously make sense and I think people do tend to have very polarized views on this, where some people will say, ‘Why are you vaccinating the youth? That increased risk in cases reflects that they have not been following the guidelines of provincial health guidelines and … by vaccinating them, you’re rewarding the non-compliance,” he said, adding if youth are more likely top spread the virus, it is important they get vaccinated.

On Monday, the province said people aged 55 and older can register online and by phone. By Wednesday, people 50 and older will be eligible, and those 45 years and up can register starting Friday. Starting April 19, registration will be open to those 40 and older.

Back in March, the province announced plans for priority groups such as teachers and first responders to get the shot, however the program was put on hold at the beginning of this month as the province studied concerns of blot clots in the AstraZeneca vaccine.