Fraser Health schools have 30 times more active exposures than Van Coastal

None of Fraser Health’s 13 schools districts are without a COVID-19 exposure — and eight of those districts have more than 10 active exposures

Vancouver Sun 3 minute read October 12, 2021

There are 174 active COVID-19 exposures in schools within Fraser Health compared to just six within Vancouver Coastal Health, latest figures show.

This comes despite Vancouver Coastal Health’s population (1.25 million) being just 30 per cent less than within Fraser Health (1.8 million) — though Fraser Health has a higher proportion of younger people than Vancouver Coastal Health.

The latest Fraser Health active school exposure tally includes 32 exposures within Surrey Schools district and 27 within independent schools — the highest two numbers within districts in that health region.

None of Fraser Health’s 13 schools districts are without a COVID-19 exposure — and eight districts have more than 10 active exposures — while half of the 10 school districts within Vancouver Coastal Health have no active exposures.

The Vancouver School District (with 50,000 students) has three active exposures, compared to the 32 in Surrey (with 75,000 students).

There are 79 active exposures in schools within Interior Health — including six in Cranbrook, where the percentage of people aged 12 and over who are fully vaccinated is 74 per cent, compared to the provincial average of 82.2 per cent. The lowest vaccination rate within that health authority is in Enderby at 62 per cent.

Vancouver Island Health has 23 active school exposures, while Northern Health has six.

When children return to school on Tuesday morning, there will have been 1,276 COVID-19 exposures in total across B.C. at 513 schools since the school year began.

There were 77 notices issued across the province last Friday alone. On Sunday, Sorrento Elementary School in Interior Health told families that school would close for a week due to a number of staff who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure.

Despite this high number of exposures within school communities in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health, neither of these health regions have active public COVID-19 exposures listed on their websites, or businesses closed due to COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, no one in B.C. aged 11 and under was eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. However, that could change before the end of the year.

B.C. health officials say parents can now register their children aged five to 11 for the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a prepared statement, government spokesman Jeffrey Ferrier said parents can register their kids through the Get Vaccinated portal, although it is unclear when the shot for children will be approved.

Ferrier said people are scheduled for their vaccination based on when it’s their turn, not when they register.

He said the province will notify parents when it’s their turn to book an appointment for their children.

Pfizer Canada said last week it was preparing to seek Health Canada’s authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 by mid-October.

Premier John Horgan said officials in B.C. are working on the logistics of delivering the vaccines to children, if and when that approval comes.

The B.C. Teachers Federation is not opposed to mandatory vaccination for its members, but wants it to be a provincial health order from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, and not implemented piecemeal by school districts.

COVID-19 infections among those under 12 in B.C. are higher than at any other time in the pandemic.

Vaccination rates in B.C. are among the highest in the world, and vaccination is considered to be the key to managing the pandemic.

However, there are some in B.C. who are opposed to vaccination on a variety of grounds, including that if they have already contracted COVID-19 in the past then they have antibodies and do not need vaccinations. Other grounds of opposition include religious views and fear that the vaccine may be harmful.

— with files from Canadian Press