B.C. provincial health officials have decided to spread the doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to 16 weeks.
Originally the doses to combat COVID-19 were spread out by 28 days, then it was pushed to 42 days and now it is 112 days.
“This means everyone moves up the list and everyone will be protected sooner,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday.
“We will monitor very closely to see if we see any changes in the protection levels. We believe this is supported strongly by the data both here in B.C. and the scientific community around the world.”
The announcement comes as the province outlines the move to Phase 2 of the immunization campaign.
All British Columbians born in 1941 or earlier will be eligible to receive the first shot in March and early April.
Starting on Monday, seniors and high-risk people residing in independent living and senior’s supportive housing, including staff, will be immunized across the province.
Henry, Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Penny Ballem outlined Monday how more than 400,000 British Columbians will receive the first COVID-19 shot over the next five or six weeks.
“At every step of the way, we are putting the health and safety of British Columbians first,” Horgan said.
“B.C. was one of the first provinces to layout our vaccine plan, and now we’re moving to Phase 2 to reach even more of our seniors and Elders. We’re getting vaccine into arms as fast as we can, given early supply delays from manufacturers, and we’re seeing it start to make a difference for people and their communities throughout our province.”
Once seniors and high-risk people residing in independent living and senior’s supportive housing are done, the province will move on to home-care support clients and staff, then Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years and older) and finally all seniors born in or before 1941.
Beginning March 8, 2021, seniors aged 80+ and Indigenous peoples aged 65+ who are not living in independent living or seniors supportive housing can make one call to book their appointment through their local health authority call centre according to a staggered schedule.
This is to avoid long waits and system overload.
Immunization clinic locations will be confirmed at the time of booking, with vaccinations starting as early as March 15, 2021.
- March 8, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1931 (90 years+)/Indigenous peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment.
- March 15, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1936 (85 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment.
- March 22, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment.
“The single greatest risk factor for severe illness or death is age. That is why like many jurisdictions around the world the core of our program is age-based,” Henry said.
Health authority contact information, complete call-in schedules, hours of operations and step-by-step instructions on how to call to book an appointment for themselves, for a family member, for a friend or neighbour will be available on March 8, 2021 online.
In mid-April, Phase 3 will begin mass vaccination of people aged 60 to 79 years, and people aged 16+ who are extremely clinically vulnerable at community immunization clinics throughout B.C. Mobile clinics will be available in some rural communities and for people who are homebound due to mobility issues.
In Phase 3, British Columbians will register and book their appointments to receive their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine through an online registration tool. People born between 1942 and 1946 (ages 79 to 75), and Indigenous people born between the years of 1956 and 1960 (ages 64 to 60), will be able to register for an appointment online or by phone by March 31, 2021.
As of Feb. 28, the province has used 275,681 doses of vaccine, of which 82,810 were second doses.
“This immunization process is a massive undertaking and I thank the regional health authorities, the thousands of health-care workers and medical staff, our colleagues in the Ministry of Health and the many community partners who help us to deliver care and who have been working tirelessly throughout this pandemic for their dedication and support,” Ballem, executive lead for B.C.’s immunization plan, said.
“Phase 2 is right on schedule, and we are working closely with each of the regional health authorities to make sure that they have the tools and resources needed to safely and efficiently book appointments.”