B.C.'s COVID-19 mass vaccine rollout to begin mid-March | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C.'s COVID-19 mass vaccine rollout to begin mid-March

Charmane Lazzarotto was the first COVID-19 vaccine recipient in Kelowna on Dec. 22. Many more vaccines are coming.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Interior Health
January 22, 2021 - 10:34 AM

B.C.’s mass vaccination program will kick into gear near the end of March as long as enough vaccine is delivered in time.

By mid-March, people can start registering for vaccinations by phone, computer or app, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix during a news conference today, Jan. 22.

Right now, the focus is on getting the limited amount of vaccine to staff and residents in long-term care homes. That will be slowed by a drop off in the number of Pfizer vaccines delivered over the next couple of weeks, but the expectation is those supplies will pick up later in February.

The next group to get vaccinated will be seniors over 80 living in the community, which should take until about the end of March as there are close to 250,000 B.C. residents who are over the age of 80.

By April, the vaccines will move out into the community at large at mass clinics, strictly by age. People can register by age cohort (starting at 75 to 79 years) two weeks before their vaccine will be available.

It’s expected that, by early July, 1.16 million people 60 and older will have received their first vaccine.

Younger people will have to wait longer but all 4.3 million B.C. residents over the age of 18 who are eligible for vaccinations should have at least their first dose by the end of September.

People under 18 will not be getting vaccines until there is more testing within that age group by the manufacturers.

The timeline is based on only getting the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that are currently approved. If other vaccines are approved , the process can be sped up.

Vaccinations will be done strictly by age because older people are the most likely to get seriously ill or die.

“Adults older than 60 years may have at least five times increased odds of hospitalization and mortality from COVID-19 compared to those aged less than 45 years,” the briefing notes say. “This increased risk appears to magnify at least to some degree even for those older than 60 years, with those aged over 80 years having double the mortality risk of those aged 65-69 years.”

The province is currently in Phase 1 of its vaccination program with a limited number of vaccines available. This phase started in December and is nearing an end but, Pfizer is not delivering any vaccines to B.C. next week because of production issues in Europe so the program has been slowed a bit.

This phase includes 70,000 residents and staff in long-term care homes, 30,000 people who are in hospital and at higher risk, paramedics and public health staff, 25,000 people on first nations communities and others. That totals close to 150,000 people. There have been about 103,000 people who have received their first dose so far.

Phase two is expected to start in February and will cover more that 370,000 residents including 240,000 who are seniors over 80 years or indigenous seniors over 65, 50,000 doses will be for other health care workers, 40,000 for vulnerable people such as the homeless and 25,000 other first nations residents.

Phase 3 will move the vaccinations into the community, starting with those 70 to 79 years old. That’s planned to start in April but there is some hope that there will be enough vaccines available to start with those people in late March.

Those who have compromised immune systems will be factored into the earlier phases than their ages would normally entitle them to.

It’s expected to take until early July to immunize all those over 60 years old. Then the province will move into Phase 4 for those between 18 and 59, starting with the older people first.

There are 705,567 people in the Interior Health region entitled to vaccinations. When the vaccinations are running at full speed there will be up to 81,000 people being vaccinated each week in the region, or 16,200 per day.

There will be mobile clinics set up for smaller communities and some in-home vaccinations for those who have mobility issues.

Everyone who gets vaccinated will get a paper copy of their immunization and will be able to access it online as well.

More details on how to register will be released in coming weeks.

To learn more about  the Immunization Plan go here.

More technical immunization information is available on the BC Centre for Disease Control website here.

For more information on what to expect when you go to get vaccinated, go here.

 — This story was updated at 12:01 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 with additional information.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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