B.C. hires doctor to lead COVID-19 vaccine rollout, millions of doses expected to arrive in coming months

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Dr. Penny Ballem has been hired to lead the province's COVID-19 immunization efforts during the next phases of the vaccine rollout.

With millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses expected to arrive in British Columbia in the coming weeks and months, the provincial government hired someone new to lead the rollout efforts.

Minister of Health Adrian Dix announced Wednesday that Dr. Penny Ballem, chair of Vancouver Coastal Health, will lead the province’s COVID-19 immunization efforts during the next phases of the vaccine rollout.

“Dr. Ballem is an extraordinary leader in B.C.,” said Dix.

“I feel very very privileged to have been asked to do this,” said Ballem on Wednesday. “It’s obvious, as the minister said, one of the most important initiatives we’ve ever been tasked within our health sector in B.C.”

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British Columbia is expected to receive 2.64 million doses of vaccine between April to June — an average of 203,777 doses per week or triple the volume the province will be receiving between February and March, said Dix.

“The next phase of our efforts will see a significant and really massive scaling up of our vaccination efforts,” said Dix. “It will be the largest vaccination effort in B.C. history and it requires a strong team and having Dr. Ballem as executive lead for that team . . . is an important addition.”

Around six million additional doses of the vaccine are slated to arrive in the province between July and September, for an average of 461,538 doses per week.

The figures, said Dix, do not include the federal government’s recent purchase of 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which was announced on Tuesday, nor do they include other vaccines that might be approved by Health Canada in the near future.

“This is a massive effort and today’s announcement is part of the extraordinary effort being made across the B.C. health care system,” said Dix.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccines expected to arrive in B.C. pharmacies in March or April

British Columbia has delivered all COVID-19 vaccine doses it has received as of Wednesday morning, however, Dix said more is on the way.

“We are expecting to receive, today and tomorrow, more Pfizer vaccine to be delivered in B.C. and on Friday, more Moderna vaccine and that will push and keep us going in this period,” he said.

Ballem, who was once the City of Vancouver’s chief administrative officer, will remain in her current role with Vancouver Coastal Health.

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