BC reveals vaccine plan for those over age 80 and extends time period between doses

Vaccine bookings start soon


The B.C. government says more than 400,000 people will be immunized from March to early April as the province’s vaccination program quickly ramps up.

B.C. is moving into Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout, which will see doses distributed to those outside the healthcare and long-term care systems for the first time, focusing first on older citizens and Indigenous elders.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says age has been found to be the single most important risk factor related to the virus and is what the province has designed its vaccine program around. Dr. Henry also announced Monday that B.C. is now delaying the window between first and second doses to four months — up from the previous 42 days — due to better-than-expected vaccine effectiveness. The measure will free up first doses for more people.

Those in Phase 2 receiving their first vaccine dose in 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 (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years and
  • older)
  • seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years and older).

“The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for all of us and I’m proud of our health-care workers who continue to work around the clock to safely and efficiently deliver the vaccine to British Columbians throughout the province,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We are all eager to put the pandemic behind us and today marks a major step towards keeping British Columbians safe from COVID-19.”

First-dose immunizations started Monday for those living and working in independent living centres and seniors supportive housing, as well as home-care support clients and staff. Health authorities will directly contact those in this priority group to book appointments. No need to call.

Starting March 8, seniors aged 80+ and Indigenous peoples aged 65+ who are not living in independent living or seniors supportive housing can make one call to book their appointment through their local health authority call centre, according to a staggered schedule.

The staggered schedule below is to avoid long waits and system overload. Immunization clinic locations will be confirmed at time of booking, with vaccinations starting as early as March 15:

  • March 8: Seniors born in or before 1931 (90 years+)/Indigenous peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment;
  • March 15: Seniors born in or before 1936 (85 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment; and
  • March 22: Seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment.

More information on how to book your appointment can be found here.

“This immunization process is a massive undertaking and I thank the regional health authorities, the thousands of health-care workers and medical staff, our colleagues in the Ministry of Health and the many community partners who help us to deliver care and who have been working tirelessly throughout this pandemic for their dedication and support,” said Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead for B.C.s immunization plan.

“Phase 2 is right on schedule, and we are working closely with each of the regional health authorities to make sure that they have the tools and resources needed to safely and efficiently book appointments.”

Provincial health authorities also shared statistics that show the effectiveness of the vaccine in the long term care system. In about three weeks after the first doses of the vaccine were distributed, COVID-19 cases became a rarity.

Health authorities say once the program hits Phase 3 — the general population — they will be encouraging people to register for their vaccine online as much as possible to prevent long phone waits. B.C. health officials also said they are optimistic that supply issues with the vaccine at the federal level that have slowed down immunizations provincially are nearly behind us.

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