B.C. amongst world leaders in 1st-dose coronavirus vaccine uptake, but plenty of ground to make up on 2nd doses

A world leader in jab uptake

British Columbia is near the front of the pack globally in COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

According to the University of Oxford Our World Data report, after a slow initial rollout Canada has now vaulted into first place for the largest share of people to have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

As of Monday, a little over 65 per cent of Canadians have gotten at least one jab, and within the country, B.C. is leading the way among provinces. The provincial government said Tuesday 76.1 per cent of adults and 74.4 per cent of those aged 12 and up have received one dose. That is eclipsed only by the Yukon at 80 per cent.

B.C. was one of the first jurisdictions in the world to significantly delay administering second doses in favour of getting more first doses to more people — something that has boosted first-dose statistics.

When provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a four-month interval in February, in response to vaccine supply shortages, federal chief science advisor Dr. Mona Nemer called the move a “population-level experiment.” Some other doctors, and many in the public, questioned the move.

Dr. Henry’s decision was later backed up by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. A study released in the U.K. last month also showed the Pfizer vaccine generated antibody responses three-and-a-half times larger in older people when the vaccine interval was extended from three weeks to 12.

With vaccines now in better supply, B.C. has dropped the vaccine interval back down to eight weeks.

Second doses

The focus on first doses means Canada, and B.C., is far from a world leader when it comes to fully vaccinated citizens, although second jabs have started flowing rapidly in the past two weeks.

The University of Oxford says just 13 per cent of Canadians are fully vaccinated, well short of the world leader in that metric, Israel, which has been plateaued at about 59 per cent for a month. B.C. is sitting at 12.81 per cent.

The strong first dose vaccine numbers for B.C. and Canada illustrate low levels of vaccine hesitancy, as countries like the United States see first-dose rates (52%) start to level off despite ample supply. Some parts of the U.S. are doing better, like Vermont, which cracked 80 per cent this week.

A new poll released this week by Insights West showed vaccine hesitancy has fallen “dramatically” in recent weeks, with just eight per cent of British Columbians saying they are unlikely to get the vaccine.

Experts estimate between 70 and 90 per cent of citizens need to gain immunity, through vaccination or prior infection, for a population to reach herd immunity.

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