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

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

Vanessa Dueck.
Snapshots of a Chilliwack father from his loving daughter

Father’s Day memories of special moments shared together

Rachel is a six month old Labrador retriever cross who was found at large. She is seen here at the Chilliwack SPCA on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Rachel at the Chilliwack SPCA

6-month-old puppy found at large, now at Chilliwack SPCA, needs special home

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Most Read