Premier Horgan lays out a detailed look at BC's vaccination plan

B.C.'s vaccination plan

The B.C. government has changed its approach to mass COVID-19 vaccinations beginning in April, using age as the main factor to determine who gets vaccinated first.

Friday morning, the B.C. government provided an approximate outline of when British Columbians will be able to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. It will be B.C.'s largest immunization plan in the province's history, which will see about 4.3 million people vaccinated over the next eight months.

While Dr. Bonnie Henry said last month that frontline workers would be given priority immunizations beginning around Easter, the province has since changed their strategy, focusing primarily on older British Columbians first.

Dr. Henry said this is due to a review of the science, ethics and operational considerations of the rollout.

Roughly 150,000 high-priority recipients in “Phase 1” will receive the vaccine through February, of which more than 100,000 have already had their first dose, and another 372,000 “Phase 2” people in other vulnerable populations, including those over 80, will be vaccinated through March.

Following these first two phases, the main factor for when an individual can get a vaccination will be age. Dr. Henry said that has been the most determinate factor when it comes to severe injury or death from COVID-19.

See below for a detailed breakdown of the four phases of B.C.'s vaccination plan.

The province plans to set up 172 vaccination clinics across B.C. in March, along with mobile sites for those who are unable to leave their homes.

In March, the government will begin pre-registering people for appointments, through phone calls, emails and text messaging.

Beginning in April, those between the ages of 75 and 79 will be eligible for vaccines, followed by subsequent five-year cohorts. According to this plan, those between 60 and 64 should receive their second dose of the vaccine by July, while the youngest cohort, 18-24, should expect to receive their second dose by September.

Dr. Henry said they currently don't have plans to vaccinate those under 18.

Additionally, the province plans to vaccinate about 180,000 “clinically extremely vulnerable” individuals of any age beginning in April. See below for a full list of those considered extremely vulnerable.

The province will begin reaching out to those over the age of 80 living in the community in late February to set up immunization appointments. Pre-registration for the bulk of the population will begin in mid-March, which will allow people to book their vaccination appointments two to four weeks out.

Vaccination clinics will be set up in 172 communities across the province, in places like community halls, arenas, stadiums and gymnasiums. Mobile vaccination clinics, retrofitting vehicles like transit buses, will be used to access more rural communities, and people who are unable to leave their homes.

The timeline of the vaccination plan is flexible and subject to change over the next several months. The plan only takes into account the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which have been approved by Health Canada, but Dr. Henry expects the AstraZeneca vaccine to be approved in the coming weeks, which could result in more vaccine doses being available.

Premier John Horgan, along with Dr. Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Penny Ballem, are presenting the vaccination plan in an online press conference Friday morning.

Phase 1 (current phase)
Timeline: December 2020 to February 2021

  • Residents and staff in long-term care facilities
  • Individuals assessed for and awaiting long-term care
  • Residents and staff of assisted living residences
  • Essential visitors to long-term care facilities and assisted living residences
  • Health-care workers providing care for COVID-19 patients in settings like intensive care units, emergency departments, paramedics, medical units and surgical units
  • Remote and isolated Indigenous communities

Phase 2
Timeline: February to March 2021

  • Seniors aged 80+ who are not immunized in Phase 1
  • Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) seniors age 65 and over, and Elders and additional Indigenous communities not immunized in Phase 1
  • Hospital staff, community general practitioners and medical specialists not immunized in Phase 1
  • Vulnerable populations living and working in select congregated settings
  • Staff in community home support and nursing services for seniors

Phase 3 (General population immunization)
Timeline: April to June 2021 *Timeline may change based on vaccine availability

People aged 79 to 60, in five-year increments (D1 = first dose/D2 = second dose)

  • Aged 79-75; D1: April/D2: May
  • Aged 74-70, D1: April/D2: May
  • Aged 69-65; D1: May or June/D2: June or July
  • Aged 64-60; D1: June/D2: July
  • Aged 69-16 who are clinically extremely vulnerable; D1/D2 April-June

Phase 4
Timeline: July to September 2021 *Timeline may change based on vaccine availability

People aged 59 to 18, in five-year increments: (D1 = first dose/D2 = second dose)

  • Aged 59 to 55; D1: July/D2: August
  • Aged 54 to 50; D1: July/D2: August
  • Aged 49 to 45; D1: July/D2: August
  • Aged 44 to 40; D1: July/D2: August
  • Aged 39 to 35; D1: July or August/D2: August or September
  • Aged 34 to 30; D1: August/D2: September
  • Aged 29 to 25; D1: August or September/D2: September
  • Aged 24 to 18; D1/D2: September

Note: As additional vaccines are approved and become available, people who are front-line essential workers or work in specific workplaces or industries may also be able to start receiving vaccines later in Phase 3 and into Phase 4.

Immunization for clinically extremely vulnerable individuals

British Columbians aged 69 to 16 with the following conditions will be eligible for earlier immunization in Phase 3:

  • solid organ transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
    • people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • people having other targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP (Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase) inhibitors
    • people who have had bone marrow or stem-cell transplants in the last six months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • people with severe respiratory conditions, including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • people with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency, homozygous sickle cell disease)
  • people on immunosuppression therapies enough to significantly increase risk of infection (biologic modifiers, high-dose steroids, AZT, cyclophosphamide)
  • people 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

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