The Moderna vaccine is being rolled out to members of the Tsq’escenemc community (Canim Lake Band) today, Jan. 14, three days after an outbreak of COVID-19 was declared at the tight-knit community.
Chief Helen Henderson said 350 vaccinations will be provided in the community, located about 40 kilometres east of 100 Mile House, where there are 52 positive cases. She said the band advocated for the vaccine as it “was critical for us to advocate for vaccinations to stop this outbreak.”
The community has been on lockdown since Jan. 8. The vaccine will be provided to all members and non-members over 18 years old in the community.
“Today is a feel-good day. Our EOC has been coordinating our response to this outbreak since Jan. 5. With the number of cases jumping and the exposures that happened through direct contact, 75 per cent of our (in-community) population was in isolation,” Henderson said in an email to Black Press Media. “That gives you an idea of how many available human resources we are working with.
“From food insecurity, firewood supply, to wellness checks we have met and continue to meet the needs of our Tsq’escen’emc.”
Henderson said the community is holding up.
“We are stronger together and we have supported each other from day 1 the pandemic was announced. With the vaccine, we see light after a very few dark days. We continue to send strength to our members in the hospital, isolation centres and cohort centres.”
The Canim Lake Band remains in close contact with the District of 100 Mile House and Cariboo Regional District to ensure a coordinated and effective response to the evolving situation in the area.
In a joint news release, the three entities ask everyone to be kind and tolerant, avoid speculation and rumour, abide by public health directives and maintain protective measures such as masks and social distancing that can slow the spread of the virus. Everyone is being asked to respect the closure and postpone non-essential/unapproved trips in or out of the community for the time being.
“Tsq’escenemc values are to look after all: respect one another and help one another. Sharing this approach is a great way for everyone in the community to contribute positively to a challenging situation,” the release said.
“The lockdown measures taken by the Tsq’escenemc benefit our entire community, reduce the potential burden on limited healthcare resources, and will assist Canim Lake members to stay healthy and have the capacity to take care of themselves. We ask that you support them in this difficult time.”
Interior Health public health staff are visiting the community to provide general support, continually assess the situation and perform inspections as required.
Interior Health medical health officer Silvina Mema noted Canim Lake is “not an isolated” incident as cases are also increasing in the greater 100 Mile House area. She confirmed there are cases at the 100 Mile District General Hospital but the hospital still has capacity. Serious cases that require intensive care will be transported to Kamloops or other hospitals, she added.
“We are seeing more (cases) in Canim Lake and the 100 Mile region. It wouldn’t be unexpected to see more cases going into the hospital in the next few days,” Mema said.