As British Columbia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout builds up steam, the province says it appears likely most residents will have a chance to get at least one dose earlier than initially expected.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and vaccine program lead Dr. Penny Ballem provided an updated look at the vaccination timeline in a presentation Thursday.
B.C. is expecting to have received more than 906,000 doses of vaccine by April 18.
Officials said that, combined with the province’s decision to extend the gap between first and second doses to four months, provides the “opportunity to advance protection of the population by moving up the timing for age-based cohort vaccination in the general population and Indigenous peoples.”
Officials estimate the new timeline could see up to 25 per cent of B.C.’s population immunized against COVID-19 by this time next month.
The Fraser Health region and Vancouver Coastal Health regions, as the epicentres of community spread, will be the priority.
Both regions, along with the Island Health region are set to see increased dosages between March 22 and April 18.
The Northern Health and Interior Health regions will get increased capacity in this period, but officials remain focused on immunizing First Nations communities, along with the entire community of Prince Rupert.
The province also announced Thursday it is aiming to have an online booking portal active starting April 6 for seniors 65 and older, booking appointments beginning on April 19.
By April 19, this platform will become the primary way British Columbians will book their shots.
March into April
The first group of people to move up in the queue will be seniors over the age of 75.
In order to reduce demand on call centres, booking for this group is being segmented by age in one-year cohorts starting on Sat., March 20.
- 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
In addition to this age group, the province is also administering vaccine to people who are clinically extremely vulnerable in March and April.
This includes people with underlying medical conditions that put them at increased risk of severe illness, including organ transplant recipients, people with certain cancers or respiratory illnesses and adults on dialysis.
The provinces estimates more than 150,000 people are eligible within this group. You can see a breakdown of this group here.
Additionally, the province will begin using its AstraZeneca/SII vaccine to immunize priority front-line workers through March and April.
These vaccinations are on top of the priority list the province already announced, which includes people in workplaces identified as having the highest risk of COVID-19 transmission, including food processing plants, including poultry, fruit and fish processing.
April through June
Details on how vaccine will roll out starting in April are less concrete, and the province cautions the ability to speed up immunizations will hinge on vaccines arriving as scheduled.
During this period, vaccinations will continue for medically vulnerable and at-risk front-line workers.
However, officials are projecting that everyone older than 18 who wants a shot could get one before Canada day.
If there are no hiccups, the province projects more than 347,000 people aged 70 to 79 could have their first dose before April 18.
From that point, first-dose immunizations will continue in five year age cohorts for younger age groups as follows:
- Ages 75-79 — April
- Ages 70-74 — April
- Ages 65-69 — April
- Ages 60-64 — April/May
- Ages 55-59 — May
- Ages 50-to 54 –May
- Ages 45-49 — May
- Ages 40-44 –May/June
- Ages 35-39 — May/June
- Ages 30-34 — June
- Ages 25-29 — June
- Ages 18-24 — June
As of March 17, B.C. had given at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to 357,047 people, about seven per cent of the province’s population.View link »