BC Health officials outlined the provincial COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan for the upcoming months, which plans to make the vaccine readily available to all 4.3 million BC residents over 18 by September.

“The Government of Canada has committed that every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will have access to a vaccine before the end of September 2021,” explained BC Health Minister, Adrian Dix.

BC’s eldest citizens will be the first in line, as they are basing the rollout on 5-year-age cohorts.

“Adults older than 60 years may have at least 5 times increased odds of hospitalization and mortality from COVID-19 compared to those aged less than 45 years,” explained Dr.Bonnie Henry, “this increased risk appears to magnify at least to some degree even for those older than 60 years, with those aged over 80 years having double the mortality risk of those aged 65-69 years.”

Between April and September, Northern Health is expected to receive 28,000 doses a week, which amounts to 5,600 per day.

“In some cases, if we have a very small community that we’re going to for vaccinating the older age group- if it’s a very small community and vaccines are available it’s possible we may decide to vaccinate the whole community right then rather than coming back three or four times,” explained Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead of the BC immunization rollout.

In March, the province will set up 172 vaccination clinics across the province, there will also be mobile sites set up wherever needed as well as home visits for those unable to go to clinics.

Starting in mid-to-late February, Health Authorities will be reaching out to seniors 80 years and older as well as Indigenous seniors aged 65 and up to give them more insight on how to pre-register for appointments.

Starting in mid-March and by five-year cohorts working backwards from age 75-79, citizens will be able to pre-register for a vaccine 2-4 weeks before they are eligible for their appointment.

Additionally, mobile sites will be set up wherever needed and home visits to support those who are unable to go to clinics will be available.

Health officials will begin pre-registering and setting up vaccination appointments in March, which will be available online.

FOUR PHASE PLAN:

  • More than 103,000 people in BC received a COVID-19 vaccine during the first phase of the rollout plan that ends in mid-February
  • Phase 2 expands immunizations to additional vulnerable populations, Indigenous communities and Elders, health-care staff and all seniors over the age of 80
  • In April, phase 3 begins and will expand to include people between the ages of 79 to 75 and work backwards in five-year cohorts to include anyone aged 60 and older.
  • People with certain underlying health conditions that make them clinically extremely vulnerable to the virus will be included in phase 3 as well.
  • Phase 4 is anticipated to begin in July for the rest of the eligible population, starting with people aged 59 to 55 and working backwards in five-year age groups until everyone over the age of 18 who wants a COVID-19 vaccine receives it.
  • Between July and August, anyone between the ages of 40-59 is expected to receive the vaccine
  • Anyone aged 18-39 can expect to be eligible for the vaccine between August and September

With each phase, more people will be eligible to be immunized and any extra available vaccines will be given to front-line workers between the ages of 18-64.

Additionally, BC Health officials explained that no one will lose their place in line if you cannot be immunized during your scheduled phase.

PEOPLE DEEMED EXTREMELY CLINICALLY VULNERABLE (REFERENCED IN PHASE 3)

  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • With specific cancers, people with cancer that are undergoing active chemotherapy or anyone with lung cancer undergoing radical radiotherapy
  • With cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
  • Having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • Having other targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • Who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • With severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • With rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell disease)
  • On immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection (biologic modifiers, high dose steroids, AZT, cyclophosphamide)
  • Who had a splenectomy (spleen removed)
  • Adults with very significant developmental disabilities that increase risk (details to come)
  • Adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage 5)
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
  • Significant neuromuscular conditions requiring respiratory support

VACCINE SUPPLY:

  • Canada has secured 6 million doses of the vaccine to be distributed between January to March
  • The federal government is expecting to receive another 20 million doses between April and June, then 45 million from July to September
  • From mid-December 2020 to the end of March, BC expects to receive 792,675 doses
  • BC expects to receive approximately 2,640,000 doses from April to the end of June
  • From July to September, BC is expecting to receive nearly 6 million doses

These numbers only account for the two Health Canada approved vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech, and doesn’t account for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which health officials claim is likely to be approved before the end of March.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines require two doses administered about 35 days apart.

BC’s entire vaccine rollout plan is based on the findings and predictions of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and doesn’t account for any unexpected delays in distribution.