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British Columbia prioritizing teachers, child-care staff and first responders for COVID shot

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s front line and essential workers move to the front of the line' B.C.’s front line and essential workers move to the front of the line
The B.C. government says hundreds of thousands of front-line and essential workers will begin receiving their COVID-19 vaccinatons in April. Richard Zussman reports – Mar 18, 2021

More than 300,000 front-line workers, including first responders, grocery store employees, teachers and child-care workers will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations In April.

“We know how challenging this pandemic has been on our front-line workers,” Premier John Horgan said.

Click to play video: 'B.C. priority groups to receive COVID-19 vaccine as age-based rollout timelines move up' B.C. priority groups to receive COVID-19 vaccine as age-based rollout timelines move up
B.C. priority groups to receive COVID-19 vaccine as age-based rollout timelines move up – Mar 18, 2021

Read more: B.C.’s first batch of AstraZeneca headed for workers at food processing plants, industrial camps

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“Many of these people have come to work throughout this pandemic, continuing to teach and care for our children, stock the shelves of our local grocery store and keep our communities safe. By immunizing these front-line workers, we are making workplaces and communities throughout our province safer.”

Public health officials and the COVID-19 Workplace Task Group determined which workers will receive the AstraZeneca/SII COVISHIELD.

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The entire first priority groups include first responders (police, firefighters, emergency transport), K-12 educational staff, child-care staff, grocery store workers, postal workers, bylaw and quarantine officers, manufacturing workers, wholesale/warehousing employees, cross-border transport workers, corrections workers and staff living in congregate housing at places such as ski hills.

Read more: ‘Huge relief’: B.C.’s teachers, police officers, front-line workers react to COVID-19 vaccine news

These priority groups have been identified as workers in places and sectors where the use of personal protective equipment and barriers can be challenging, outbreaks and clusters have occurred or are ongoing and where workers must live or work in congregate settings.

Read more: B.C. reports 498 new COVID-19 cases, four deaths

It also includes sectors where maintaining the workforce for a critical service is necessary.

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These vaccinations are on top of the priority list the province already announced. British Columbia currently has about 68,000 doses of AstraZeneca.

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Shots from the first shipment are going to protect people in workplaces identified as having the highest risk of COVID-19 transmission, including food processing plants, including poultry, fruit and fish processing.

Click to play video: 'B.C. premier comments on stubborn COVID-19 case numbers' B.C. premier comments on stubborn COVID-19 case numbers
B.C. premier comments on stubborn COVID-19 case numbers – Mar 17, 2021

It also includes workers in agricultural operations with congregate worker accommodations and large industrial camps with congregate accommodations for workers.

“The additional supply of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine allows us to strategically target immunizations to maximize the protection of our province,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

“With each person who receives any of our three safe and effective vaccines, we are all that much safer. This targeted outreach builds on the momentum we now have with our age-based program to protect those who have been at work every day, without break and without question, for the past year.”

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In total, B.C. expects to receive approximately 340,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of May 2021.

Read more: ‘It means a lot’: Penticton seniors share COVID-19 vaccine experiences

The province will use a combination of community pharmacists, existing immunization clinics and mobile clinics at some worksites to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to front-line workers.

Click to play video: 'Special challenges for Indigenous people during Prince Rupert mass vaccination' Special challenges for Indigenous people during Prince Rupert mass vaccination
Special challenges for Indigenous people during Prince Rupert mass vaccination – Mar 17, 2021

Booking arrangements for front-line workers will be established in the coming weeks and will be communicated to each sector.

Workers identified as front-line and prioritized for the AstraZeneca vaccine should not call into regional health authority call centres at this time.

Read more: COVID-19 claims higher among elementary school teachers than secondary teachers: WorkSafeBC

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The age-based vaccine rollout using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines is also accelerating and moving forward ahead of schedule.

Currently, every senior born in 1941 or before (80 years old and over) and Indigenous peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years old and over) will be eligible to book a vaccination appointment by Friday, March 19.

The next age cohort is eligible to call as early as Saturday, March 20, 2021. The call centre approach through health authorities has now been extended to include those born between the years of 1942 to 1951 (79-70 year olds) and Indigenous peoples born in 1966 and before (55 and over).

This age cohort call-in schedule will begin as follows:

  • Age 79 and Indigenous peoples 55 and older — Saturday, March 20 at noon
  • Age 78 — Monday, March 22 at noon
  • Age 77 — Tuesday, March 23 at noon
  • Age 76 –Thursday, March 25 at noon
  • Age 75 — Saturday, March 27 at noon

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