Seniors priority in Phase 2 of B.C. immunization plan

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  • Seniors, Indigenous peoples, and people who live and work in independent living facilities are among the priorities in the ongoing Phase 2 of B.C.’s anti-COVID-19 immunization.

    B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday (March 10) that people 85 years and older will be able to book vaccine appointments as of Thursday (March 11), four days ahead of the original schedule.

    Dix said that appointments for people 90 and older have proceeded more quickly than expected and are almost completed, despite a slow start on March 8.

    A total of 37,661 appointments have been booked as of Wednesday (March 10) out of the roughly 48,000 British Columbians over 90 eligible.

    On March 8, approximately 35,000 Indigenous people over 65 also became eligible to book vaccine appointments.

    Seniors 90 years old and older can continue to call to make appointments as bookings open for the 85 years and older age cohort. The 85 to 89 age group means another 75,000 B.C. residents are now eligible for vaccine appointments.

    More than 400,000 people in B.C. will be immunized from March to early April as the province moves into Phase 2 of the largest immunization rollout in B.C.’s history.

    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).

    Also eligible are home-care support clients and staff; Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years and older); and seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years and older).

    There are four phases in the vaccination plan.

    Phases one and two are targeted to high risk populations. Phase one covered December 2020 to February 2021. Phase two covers February to April 2021.

    Phases three and four are for the general population, starting in April 2021 to September this year.

    “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.

    Ballem added: “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.”

    “We can now see the light at the end of what has been a difficult and challenging time for us all. To get us through, we need to continue to work together and support each other,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer.

    Henry added: “We are working hard each and every day to make sure that everyone who wants a vaccine gets one, and my new provincial health officer order significantly expands the range of health professions and occupations who can support our immunization clinics, including dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics, firefighters and retired nurses.”

    On Wednesday (March 10), Henry and Dix issued a joint statement about the COVID-19 situation.

    Henry and Dix reported 531 new cases, including two epi-linked cases, for a total of 85,650 cases in B.C.

    There are 4,861 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 9,051 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases.

    According to Henry and Dix, a further 79,309 people who tested positive have recovered.

    Of the active cases as of March 10, 244 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 66 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.

    There have been 51 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in B.C., for a total of 627 cases.

    Of the total cases, 109 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 580 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 33 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 14 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.

    As of March 10, 355,340 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 86,960 of which are second doses.

    Henry and Dix also reported one new COVID-19 related death in the last 24 hours, for a total of 1,394 deaths in B.C.
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