THE Province announced on Wednesday that the first round of approximately 4,000 COVID-19 immunizations will begin on the Lower Mainland next week now that vaccine deployment simulations are complete.
“The pandemic has turned our province upside down, but hope is on the horizon,” said Premier John Horgan. “It won’t be overnight and we must continue to do our part to protect each other, but this is a huge step in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. I would like to thank Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Minister of Health, the Immunize BC Operations Centre and B.C.’s incredible health-care workers, and all of us who are working hard to get through this pandemic together.”
The immunization plan is being led by Dr. Ross Brown, Vancouver Coastal Health’s vice-president for pandemic response and director of regional emergency operations centre; Henry, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer; and the Ministry of Health. They are supported by the Immunize BC Operations Centre that includes BC Centre for Disease Control, Provincial Health Services Authority, First Nations Health Authority, Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Armed Forces and health ministry leadership.
“When we announced our first positive case last winter, we already had protocols in place to identify and test people, and trace contacts,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Our Immunize BC Operations Centre team is made up of some of North America’s most talented emergency and public health experts who will ensure that British Columbians have access to the vaccine, with a first focus on those most vulnerable to serious illness and the people who care for them. It has been a very long year – and we’re now one step closer to ending this pandemic.”
Henry said, “Throughout the pandemic, I reminded everyone to stay calm, kind and safe and that the effects of the pandemic will not be forever. This past year has been very challenging, but thanks to unprecedented collaborations in our province, across the country and throughout the world, we are weathering this storm. Vaccines are part of the solution, but until we have enough for everyone, we need to stay strong to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.”
The first vaccines to arrive in B.C. will be from Pfizer, then Moderna, and will be delivered initially in two Lower Mainland sites next week before expanding to nine sites by January 2021.
The first limited round of approximately 4,000 vaccines will be administered to Lower Mainland health-care workers who work in long-term care homes and front-line health-care workers essential to the COVID-19 response. Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health are reaching out to those staff to schedule opportunities for vaccine appointments.
Vaccines will continue arriving each week in B.C. in increasing quantities, with targeted deployment for people in priority groups. Expected timelines will depend on vaccine approval and availability.
Following the initial 4,000 Pfizer doses, vaccines will arrive each week in B.C. in increasing quantities. As these vaccines become more available, they will be expanded to other priority populations throughout British Columbia.
A registration and record system is in development, including a process to register for vaccine access and receive a formal record of immunization.
All vaccines go through a rigorous regulatory scientific review process for safety, quality and efficacy at Health Canada before being made available to the public.
“Since the provincial vaccination team was formed, we’ve been working together with the federal government to plan, deliver and distribute COVID-19 vaccines in B.C. by early 2021,” Brown said. “This is great news for our province. With the leadership of the B.C. government and Dr. Henry, we are making sure that British Columbians get a vaccine safely and as quickly as possible.”
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/covidvaccine
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.