Immunize BC, pharmacists move up vaccines for ages 55-65 on Lower Mainland

 A partnership between Immunize BC and community pharmacists to make the COVID-19 AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine available to those aged 55 to 65 living on the Lower Mainland is ready to launch on Wednesday, March 31.

“We’re moving ahead with our immunization plan and delivering on our promise to British Columbians to move as quickly as possible, and as safely as possible, to get them the vaccines that they have been waiting patiently for,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

To help combat high numbers of COVID-19 cases in the Lower Mainland, Immunize BC is partnering with community pharmacies in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions to provide vaccinations ahead of B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan’s age-based schedule.

“The AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine is another important tool in our immunization program to get us past this surge of COVID-19 cases. We know from the millions of doses used worldwide, and especially in the U.K., it is highly effective and the benefits to those over age 55 far outweigh the very real risks of getting COVID-19,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer. “I encourage everyone in the Lower Mainland who is between 55 and 65 years of age to receive their safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine today.”

Beginning March 31, those aged 55 to 65 may call their local pharmacy and book an appointment to receive their vaccine. Drop-in service may be an option at the more than 150 participating pharmacies. People must bring their personal health number, which is found on their BC Services Card or CareCard.

“Since the approval of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine, the first fridge-stable vaccine available in Canada, we have been planning this partnership with our community pharmacy sector,” said Dr. Penny Ballem, Executive Lead of B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Program. “This initial phase is an exciting start to our ongoing work together, which will distribute the 300,000 anticipated doses of this vaccine to the whole province.”

“Pharmacies are ready to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in B.C. by beginning to offer vaccinations by local pharmacists near where people live,” said Annette Robinson, President, BC Pharmacy Association. “Pharmacists have done vaccinations since 2009 and safely delivered more than 1 million flu shots to British Columbians this past flu season.”

On March 29, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended a pause in the use of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine in all people under 55 years of age in Canada until more information is available on the rare events of blood clots seen in some countries in Europe. There is now an opportunity to use AstraZeneca doses available in B.C. to focus on those whose risk of COVID-19 is higher and to give them protection sooner.

Learn More:

To learn more about the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine, visit:
www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine/monitoring-vaccine-uptake-safety-and-effectiveness/#55plus

To learn about B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/bcseniorsfirst
And: www.gov.bc.ca/covidvaccine

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