Medical personnel wear protective gear to wheel a patient into St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, B.C. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel

Medical personnel wear protective gear to wheel a patient into St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, B.C. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel

B.C.’s earliest COVID-19 vaccines go to health care workers first

Aim is to immunize 400,000 people by end of March

More COVID-19 vaccine will be needed to arrest the pandemic spread in B.C., but the first people to be immunized will receive it next week, public health officials say.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix described the early days of the coronavirus vaccine plan Wednesday, with 4,000 doses of frozen Pfizer vaccine arriving at two sites in Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health next week packed in dry ice.

Health care workers in long-term care and the acute wards dealing with sick COVID-19 patients are priority one, followed by long-term care residents, seniors over 80 years old in the community, and those at risk because of chronic conditions, including people in Vancouver homeless shelters and in first nations communities where chronic health conditions are also prevalent.

“We’re going to take our limited doses in the first few weeks to months of this program and try to protect as many people as possible,” Henry told reporters in Victoria Dec. 9. “With the doses we expect to have between now and the end of March, we should be able to immunize close to 400,000 people in B.C. That is not enough to stop the pandemic. It’s not enough to prevent transmission in our communities widely, and to stop the pandemic in its tracks.

“But I think once we get past March and we get more vaccines, and different vaccines in higher numbers, that’s when we are going to be able to reach that threshold.”

After people with chronic conditions and poor housing, the next priority will be some paramedics, firefighters, people with higher exposure such as grocery store workers, food processing staff and teachers. Henry was asked why emergency workers and teachers aren’t higher priority.

“We are not seeing transmission in schools,” Henry said. “We are not seeing firefighters exposed.”

The Pfizer vaccine is the first approved by Health Canada, and it requires low-temperature storage. As with the Moderna vaccine expected to be approved next, it is not yet tested for use on people under 16, pregnant or with compromised immune systems. Henry said later vaccines with more conventional formulas are expected to be approved soon, which can be used for these groups.

RELATED: B.C. counts 619 new cases, 16 more deaths Wednesday

RELATED: Rapid testing pilot program is all B.C. can do now

Dr. Ross Brown, director of regional emergency operations at Vancouver Coastal Health, is the incident commander of B.C.’s roll-out, with a background in military operations. He said the vaccine program will scale up to seven locations by the end of January.

“Our approach will be slow, steady and nimble at the beginning, and ramping up as more vaccine becomes available,” Brown said. “We consider this a no-fail mission, and we will get it done.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

Just Posted

THC boardmember Melody McLorie and municipal councillor Coun. Duncan McMaster celebrated the start of construction on a 14-unit affordable housing development at 700 Sharp Road in February, 2021. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino Housing Corporation asks for portion of town’s MRDT funds

Tofino’s hotels and resorts collect a 3 per cent Municipal and Regional District Tax from visitors

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

Black Press Media file photo
Tofino sets municipal tax rates

Tofino’s residential property values are rising while businesses are declining.

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read