The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
Get our free newsletter
Sign Up
BC Politics

Booster Shots May Come Sooner as Omicron Is Detected in BC

Understanding the new variant will ‘take weeks and months,’ says Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Moira Wyton 1 Dec 2021 |

Moira Wyton is The Tyee’s health reporter. Follow her @moirawyton or reach her here. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Public health officials are urging British Columbians to get vaccinated and may move up the timeline of booster shots after the province identified its first case of the Omicron variant.

It is not yet known whether the variant of concern, first identified and publicized in South Africa on Nov. 24 but later found to be present in Belgian and Dutch cases the week before that, is more transmissible or more likely to cause severe illness, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.

“It is inevitable, I believe, that we will see more cases, but what we’re not seeing right now is widespread transmission,” Henry said.

But as the province resumes full genomic sequencing of all positive COVID-19 tests to locate other cases, Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix declined to introduce further measures to curb the variant’s likely proliferation.

And on Tuesday, while Henry introduced masking and capacity limits on worship services across the province, she also said enhanced restrictions on events and gatherings in some parts of the Interior and the North would be lifted due to low transmission rates.

Henry still echoed the World Health Organization’s caution against international travel for those over 60 or who are at high-risk, suggesting British Columbians stay “close to home” in the coming holiday season.

“It will take weeks and months for us to obtain more information,” said Henry of the variant. “What we can try to do is slow it down to understand exactly where the virus is right now.”

The first case of Omicron identified in B.C. is an individual in the Fraser Health region who recently returned from Nigeria. They are isolating and recovering at home, Henry said, and the province is currently isolating and testing 204 other individuals who returned from the 20 countries where the variant has been detected in recent days.

Also on Tuesday, the federal government beefed up its testing practices for travellers returning to Canada and added several African countries to the travel ban list, despite not banning travellers from European countries where the variant has also been found.

The new variant is a reminder that despite more than 91-per-cent vaccine coverage in B.C., “we are in a global storm,” Henry said.

Fewer than 10 per cent of people on the African continent have a single dose of vaccine, and fewer than half do in the Middle East.

Until everyone around the world has access to vaccines, whose patents have been closely held by their developers and protected by wealthy countries including Canada, the virus will continue to spread, increasing the likelihood of new and more dangerous mutations to arise.

“We live in the global community and we are all affected by what happens elsewhere,” said Henry.

The province plans to give third doses approximately six to eight months after an individual’s second dose, but says it’s waiting on the advice of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization before moving up booster shots in light of the new variant.

Both B.C.’s third and fourth waves were ushered in by loosened public health restrictions that allowed two variants, first the Alpha and most recently the Delta, to take hold in B.C.

Delta, which officials now know causes more serious illness than the original strain of COVID-19 and spreads more easily, comprises about 99.6 per cent of cases in the province right now.

There is no reason to believe Omicron won’t do the same if left unchecked, but Henry stressed that British Columbians are now well protected by vaccines.

Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna executives have said that evidence indicates their vaccines will also be highly effective against the Omicron variant, which has 50 identified mutations from the original strain, compared to 20 identified in Delta.

Henry stressed the importance of vaccinating the 350,000 children five to 11 who are now eligible and comprise the largest group of unvaccinated people in B.C.

The “vast majority” of people who are unvaccinated in B.C. will likely be infected by COVID-19 at some point, Henry said in response to a question from The Tyee.

Ontario’s independent science advisory committee estimated earlier this year that as many as 90 per cent of unvaccinated people will be infected in the next 12 months.

And as vaccination rates edge up and the virus changes, that number is a “moving target” the province wants to minimize.

“We know this virus is endemic now. We can no longer contain it with some of the measures we had early on,” Henry said.

But vaccination reduces one’s risk of infection if exposed by 90 per cent, and is even more protective against severe illness, she stressed.

“The number one most important one that protects us all, that keeps us from getting very sick is vaccination,” said Henry.  [Tyee]

Read more: Coronavirus, BC Politics

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.


  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: What Coverage Would You Like to See More of This Year?

Take this week's poll