There has been a major outbreak of pneumonia in the Downtown Eastside with more than 70 cases reported since August. This has clearly pushed the health supporting system to its limit, last month.
In a November 30 memo, David Butcher, vice-president of medicine for Northern Health, warned hospital chiefs of staff that the Vancouver outbreak was severely limiting the availability of ICU beds.
'At the present time, ICU resources across the province are at or near full capacity,' he wrote.
About seven teams comprising two dozen nurses and volunteers worked their way across Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in an effort to create awareness and also to vaccinate as many people as possible to prevent more pneumonia cases in the community.
The program has succeeded in reducing the number of emergency cases arriving for treatment.
'The strategy is to go into places where people are living and where they spend their day,' said medical health officer Reka Gustafson.
She said every year health officials had to provide flu shots, but this is the first time they have been forced to offer pneumonia vaccinations as well.
This strain of pneumonia is causing very serious blood infections, said Dr. Patricia Daly of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority: 'Those affected, many of them, are ending up in hospital in the intensive care.'
She said people with a weakened immune system are generally affected by pneumonia.
Health officials say this vaccination spree will continue for the next few weeks in an effort to immunize as many as 5,000 people.