(Files by Dione Wearmouth-MyPGNow)
Over 300,000 front-line workers in BC, including first responders and grocery store workers, will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations beginning in April.
This announcement comes as BC is running ahead of schedule with its COVID-19 Immunization Plan.
In the next few weeks, people in the following priority groups will start to receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca/SII COVISHIELD vaccine:
- First responders (police, firefighters, emergency transport);
- K-12 educational staff
- Child care staff
- Grocery store workers
- Postal workers
- Bylaw and quarantine officers
- Manufacturing workers
- Wholesale/warehousing employees – staff living in congregate housing at places such as ski hills, correctional facilities staff and cross-border transport staff.
These priority groups have been identified as workers that are employed in areas where the use of personal protective equipment can be challenging or where outbreaks or clusters have been reported.
This update comes as SD57 recently approved a letter urging Health Officials to consider education workers to be prioritized for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The province is expecting to receive around 340,000 doses of the AZ/COVISHIELD/SII vaccine by the end of May and will use pharmacists, existing immunization clinics and mobile clinics to administer the vaccines.
Booking arrangements for front-line workers will be established in the coming weeks.
Currently, the first shipment of this vaccine (AZ/COVISHIELD-SII) is being deployed to food processing plants, agriculture operations and large industrial camps with congregate accommodations for workers.
Worksites across Northern BC, such as BC Hydro’s Site C in Fort St.James are receiving a portion of the 15,000 total doses being sent out.
“This targeted outreach builds on the momentum we now have with our age-based program to protect those who have been at work every day, without break and without question, for the past year,” said Henry.
The AZ/COVISHIELD- SII vaccine is a fridge stable vaccine approved by Health Canada.
On March 9th, BC received 68,000 doses of the AZ/COVISHIELD- SII vaccine which is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), however, 60% of those (41,000) will expire on April 2nd.
Another 68,000 doses are scheduled to arrive in late March and in April BC will be receiving 136,000 doses followed by another 68,000 doses in late May.
Meanwhile, BC will receive 661,050 doses of the Pfizer vaccine between March 12th and April 18th.
During this time, the province will also be receiving 169,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
According to the BC Immunization Program, the next age cohort to book vaccine appointments is those 70-79 years old (born between 1942-1951) and will be able to call as early as Saturday (March 20th).
However, Northern residents are urged to visit the Northern Health website to determine when they will be eligible, as NH’s Immunization plan is slightly different.
Currently, the Prince George clinic is only vaccinating seniors aged 80 and up as well as Indigenous seniors aged 65 and up.
With the change in schedule, those eligible in phases 3 and 4 have been adjusted as well.
Now, phase 3 (ages 60-79) is expected to be completed in May, with those aged 16 to 69 who are deemed ‘extremely vulnerable’ to be vaccinated by the end of April.
Additionally, those eligible to receive their vaccine in phase 4 (ages 18-59), are expected to be offered a vaccine by the end of June.
UPDATED Phase 3
People aged 79 to 60, in five-year increments:
79 to 75 (dose 1 (D1) April)
74 to 70 (D1 April)
69 to 65 (D1 April)
64 to 60 (D1 April/May)People aged 69 to 16 who are clinically extremely vulnerable (D1 March/April)
UPDATED Phase 4
People aged 59 to 18, in five-year increments:
59 to 55 (D1 May)
54 to 50 (D1 May)
49 to 45 (D1 May)
44 to 40 (D1 May/June)
39 to 35 (D1 May/June)
34 to 30 (D1 June)
29 to 25 (D1 June)
24 to 18 (D1 June)