‘There is light ahead’: B.C. start vaccinating people for COVID-19 starting next week

WatchOn Wednesday the province laid out who will get priority as the COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out over the coming months. April Lawrence has more.
British Columbia will be getting nearly 4,000 doses of a brand new COVID-19 vaccine next week.

British Columbia will be getting nearly 4,000 doses of a brand new COVID-19 vaccine very soon.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, told reporters on Wednesday that Pzifer’s COVID-19 vaccine will be available in B.C. starting next week.

The first shipment arriving next week will contain 3,900 doses — which come frozen in trays consisting of 975 doses each — will be delivered to undisclosed locations within Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health.

The first people to receive the vaccine will be healthcare workers, particularly those working in long-term care and those in acute care hospitals.

Those living in long-term care are also considered a very high priority for the vaccine, although the Pfizer vaccine must be administered at the location it is first delivered to — meaning those who live in care homes and cannot travel will not be able to get the vaccine right away.

Despite that, Henry called the arrival of a vaccine hugely important and a ray of sunshine in what has otherwise been an incredibly dark and difficult year for many.

“Today is an incredibly important and positive day,” she said.

The vaccine B.C. is receiving next week is the same vaccine that has been used in the United Kingdom and has been manufactured at Pzifer’s plant in Belgium.

B.C. is expecting to receive tens of thousands of doses in the coming weeks and months from both Pzifer as well as Moderna, which has not yet been approved by Health Canada.

Health officials also expect the vaccine to be available in all health regions of the province by January and are hoping to vaccinate as many as 400,000 people by March.

“That is not enough to stop this pandemic, it’s not enough to stop transmission in our communities widely and to stop the pandemic in its tracks,” said Henry.

However, Henry said she has been waiting for this moment for a very long time and that there is light ahead.

“There is light ahead and that light is shining a little brighter today,” she said.

Who will get the vaccine after the first healthcare workers?

Once healthcare workers and those living in long-term care and acute care settings have been vaccinated, the vaccine will become available to many more people.

That includes those over the age of 80, the homeless and higher-risk population, other healthcare workers, the Indigenous community and

“What we are focused on is saving lives and protecting those most at risk,” said Henry.

However, both the Pfizer and the yet-to-be approved Moderna vaccines are not recommended for people under the age of 16, those who are pregnant as well as those with compromised immune systems.

“With these vaccines, we don’t know how safe they are or how effective they will be in those [people],” said Henry.

By the end of March and heading into April, the expectation is that there will be more than enough vaccines from various companies available in the province for other frontline workers such as other healthcare employees, first responders, teachers, grocery store workers, and transportation employees.

The long-term goal said Henry, is to have vaccines available for everyone who wants one in B.C. and that enough people get immunized to end the pandemic.

“We are not yet through this storm, but our plan has been built to be flexible and there will be changes along the way,” said Henry.


Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

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