B.C. will move into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which will focus on specific age groups and long-term care facilities.
“As we start Phase 2, this will include, of course, seniors 80 years and older and Indigenous elders 65 years and older,” said Premier John Horgan. “Through March and April, we plan to immunize another 400,000 people, building off the success we’ve had in Phase 1.”
However, Horgan noted that the B.C.’s plan relies on global vaccine supplies.
“We are dependent on off-shore vaccine supplies to meet our targets. The federal government has been working overtime to make sure that we get those vaccines, but there is no domestic supplier that we can put pressure on,” explained Horgan. “This is a scarce commodity that is in high demand in every corner of the planet. That means we have to do our best to focus on staying safe.”
Those who will get their first vaccine dose in Phase 2 through March and early April include:
- Seniors and high-risk people residing in independent living and seniors’ supportive housing (including staff).
- Home-care support clients and staff.
- Indigenous peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years and older).
- Seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years and older).
Starting on March 1st, those living and working in independent living centres and seniors’ supportive housing, as well as home-care support clients and staff will begin receiving their first doses. Health authorities will begin contacting those in the group to book appointments.
Starting on March 8th, the B.C. Government said seniors aged 80+ and Indigenous peoples aged 65+ who are not in independent living or seniors’ supportive housing can make a call to book their appointment according to a staggered schedule.
The staggered schedule will be implemented as follows to prevent call centres from being overwhelmed:
- March 8, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1931 (90 years+) and Indigenous people born in or before 1956 (65 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment;
- March 15, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1936 (85 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment; and
- March 22, 2021: Seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment.
Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead of the B.C. immunization rollout team, said friends, family, or caretakers can schedule appointments on behalf of seniors.
Ballem also warned the public to be cautious of potential scams.
“Health authority call centres will never ask for your Social Insurance Number, your diver’s license, banking information or your credit card. That will not happen, and if our seniors find themselves on a phone call where people are asking them that, then they’re on the wrong phone call,” said Ballem.
Info that will be needed, however, includes:
- First and last name.
- Date of birth.
- Postal code.
- Personal Health Number.
- Contact information for yourself or your support person.
Dr Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer said the vaccines which are currently available are all safe and effective for use.
“From the very early days, we’ve made that every single dose was recorded and we knew who got what vaccine and when,” said Henry.” We have seen that the vaccines we have here are safe and they provide a high level of real-world protection with their first dose.”
Speaking on the effectiveness of vaccines, Ballem said case numbers dropped significantly after immunization.
“For the first two to three weeks, we continued to get some cases which started to fall off about mid-way into the third week. After three weeks, it drops down to one case here or there and then down to nothing,” said Ballem.
Henry added that the B.C. will extend the period of time between the first and second dose to four months.
“This means we can move everybody up the list, and more people can be protected sooner,” said Henry.
The Province said it plans to move into Phase 3 by mid-April, which will aim to bring mass vaccination to people aged 79 to 60 years and people aged 16+ who are extremely clinically vulnerable.
B.C. anticipates that all residents will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by September.