Canadians rolled up their sleeves in 2021. Take a bow.

December 9, 2021
David Williams

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.

But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill

Speech to the Lord Mayor’s luncheon at Mansion House, London, November 10, 1942, after receiving news that the British Army had won its first major victory of World War II, at El Alamein, Egypt, forcing the retreat of the German army in North Africa.

It’s worth taking stock of where Canada stands today versus a year ago. In March 2020, the world was slammed by what has turned out to be the third worst major pandemic event in recorded history (Table 1). Global public health early warning systems, especially Canada’s, failed dismally (see here
and here). Governments everywhere were caught flat footed and scrambled to respond. The origins of the virus remain shrouded in mystery and geopolitical intrigue even to this day.

As at December 2021, there have been 5.3 million worldwide fatalities including over 29,900 in Canada. In Canada’s case, most of those lives were lost in 2020.

Table 1: Major pandemic events with 100,000 fatalities or more

Source: Jorda et. al 2020; BCBC

2021 and the race to vaccinate

Throughout 2020 the principal tools to fight the pandemic were costly social lockdowns, business shutdowns, physical distancing, mask mandates, testing, and in some countries, international and interprovincial border closures. By the start of 2021, there appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel: several highly effective vaccines had been approved or were on the cusp of approval. Even so, by March 2021, Canada seemed to be making slow progress on vaccinations. There was a risk that Canada would lag other advanced countries in vaccinating its population and being able to reopen its economy.

What a difference a few short months can make! Vaccine deliveries ramped up from April onwards and provincial governments performed impressively in rolling out vaccination programmes swiftly and efficiently. Canadians too deserve much credit for literally rolling up their sleeves.

The good news is that as 2021 draws to a close, Canada has a first dose vaccination rate of 90%
among the population aged 12 and older – one of the highest rates in the world (Figure 1a). The proportion of the population aged 12 and older who are fully vaccinated (two doses) is similarly high at 87%. This is also one of the highest in the world (Figure 2b). For B.C., 91% of the aged 12+ population are one-dose vaccinated and 87% are fully vaccinated.

Figure 1a: Cumulative percent of people aged 12+ who have received at least 1 vaccine dose

Source: Government of Canada – as at December 4, 2021

Figure 1b: Cumulative percent of people aged 12+ who are fully vaccinated (2 doses)

Source: Government of Canada – as at December 4, 2021

How do vaccination rates compare across B.C. and across ages?

B.C.’s high overall vaccination rate is due to very high vaccination rates in the major population centres. The percentages of the population fully vaccinated in the Lower Mainland and its surrounds (i.e. the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health regions) and on Vancouver Island are at or above 90% across virtually all age groups 12 years and older
(Figure 2).
Meanwhile, vaccination rates among the recently eligible 5-11 years age group are climbing fast.

The only areas of the province where vaccination rates are lagging are in the interior and northern regions of B.C.

Figure 2: Cumulative vaccination rates in B.C. by age group and health region

Source: BCCDC COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard – as at December 6, 2021


B.C. has one of the highest vaccination rates in Canada – and, indeed, the world. In the major population centres in and around the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island, 90% or more of the population has been fully vaccinated across virtually all age groups 12 years and older.

Vaccination rates among recently eligible children aged 5-11 years are also rising quickly.

The only areas of the province where vaccination rates are lagging are among eligible populations in the interior and northern regions of B.C.

Canada’s federal government deserves credit for procuring vaccines from overseas suppliers and ramping up deliveries from April 2021. The provincial governments deserve praise for swift and efficient vaccine deployment. Finally, Canadians are to be congratulated for rolling up their sleeves and making full use of the most powerful weapon in our arsenal in the fight against COVID-19 and its variants.

In addition to vaccinations, it is important to remember other additional layers of protection that continue to be essential in this ongoing fight against COVID-19. Mask wearing, proper hand hygiene and testing will help stop the spread and keep our economy moving forward. Through the Safe Screen B.C. program, employers can help keep their workplaces safe with rapid antigen test kits and onsite COVID-19 screening for employees.

COVID-19 is not over yet. Nevertheless, as 2021 draws to a close, and after all the trials of the past two years, it’s worth taking a moment to celebrate our successes.

Become A BCBC Member



Business Council of British Columbia
1050 West Pender Street, Suite 960
Vancouver BC V6E 3S7


Telephone: 604-684-3384
Media Contact: 604-684-3384

© 2023 Business Council of BC. All rights Reserved.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram