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B.C. looking at 13-week interval between COVID-19 vaccine doses, top doctor says

Click to play video: 'B.C. reports 357 new COVID-19 cases, fewest since mid-February' B.C. reports 357 new COVID-19 cases, fewest since mid-February
WATCH: Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reports 357 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, May 20, and three related death in British Columbia. – May 20, 2021

British Columbia could be in a position to shave nearly a month from the gap between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday.

The province made the decision in March to extend the gap between doses to 16 weeks — up from the pharmaceutical companies’ recommended three to four weeks — in order to maximize the number of British Columbians receiving partial protection against the virus.

Read more: B.C. likely to give second doses of COVID-19 vaccine sooner than expected: Dr. Bonnie Henry

But Henry said vaccine supply is now coming in at such a rate, with a significant boost over the next six weeks, that the wait for a second jab will be significantly shorter.

“We’ve already moved up to about 13 weeks for most people, except for the people who received it very early on,” Henry said.

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“Everybody will be eligible within a much shorter period of time in the coming weeks, and we expect that to happen within the next two weeks.”

Henry said the accelerated schedule would mean that everyone is moved up in the second dose queue, with the elderly and clinically extremely vulnerable at the front of the line.

Click to play video: 'Canadian health officials says COVID-19 vaccine dosing interval could be shortened as more deliveries arrive' Canadian health officials says COVID-19 vaccine dosing interval could be shortened as more deliveries arrive
Canadian health officials says COVID-19 vaccine dosing interval could be shortened as more deliveries arrive – May 20, 2021

“Those who are older who have not yet received their second dose can expect to be notified very soon,” she said.

Earlier Thursday, federal deputy chief public health officer Dr. Edward Njoo also suggested Canada was on track to cut the interval between vaccine doses.

“I think obviously more doses coming to the country very quickly, we’re well on track to offer that second dose,” Njoo said.

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“I think we’re on track to shorten the interval depending obviously on supply.”

Read more: Canada ‘on track’ to shorten 16-week interval between COVID-19 vaccine doses, Njoo says

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended a maximum interval on vaccine doses of four months, much longer than manufacturers’ recommended time span of three to four weeks.

While the province has a record of everyone who has received a first dose of vaccine, it does not have contact information for people who got their shot early in the immunization campaign.

Henry said those people should go to the province’s Get Vaccinated website or phone in to ensure they are registered, which will allow public health to contact them when it’s their turn to get their second dose.

“If you were somebody who was immunized before the middle of April, before April 15, go on the Get Vaccinated [site] and get registered again,” she said.

“Even if it’s more than once, it’s fine.”

As of Thursday, B.C. had given first doses of vaccine to more than 2.54 million people, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the province’s entire population.

Youth aged 12 to 17 are now eligible to register for their vaccine, which the province estimates will add another 310,000 people to that figure in the coming weeks.

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–With files from David Lao

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