B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)

B.C. COVID-19 hotspots targeted as AstraZeneca vaccine runs low

17,000 appointments booked the first day for people aged 40 and up

B.C.’s dwindling supplies of AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 are being focused on people aged 40 and up in communities with the highest infection rates, as a share of the age-based program using other vaccines is shifted to first responders and other vulnerable workers.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says regional health authorities booked 17,000 appointments for the hotspot clinics on the first day this week, and those will continue along with general immunization of the same age group, born in 1981 or earlier, through pharmacies. The federal government is attempting to receive further AstraZeneca supplies from the U.S., where supplies have not been used in mass vaccination, and without it, the pharmacy and hotspot programs will soon run out.

“At the end of each week we use up virtually all of our Pfizer, virtually all of our Moderna, which is more consistent, and now we are making a very significant effort to use up all of the AstraZeneca we have.” Dix told reporters at the B.C. legislature April 21.

Most of the targeted high-risk communities are in the Lower Mainland, including South Langley Township, West Abbotsford, North Delta, Port Coquitlam, and the Surrey neighbourhoods of West Newton, Whalley, Panorama, North Surrey and Fleetwood, plus Vancouver’s Kensington neighbourhood and Squamish.

The hotspot program also has full-community vaccination underway in Invermere, Enderby and Dawson Creek, similar to previous programs in Prince Rupert, Whistler and many Indigenous communities where adults of all ages were offered vaccine.

Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced April 19 that B.C. was lowering its age limit for AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 40 and had received an additional 75,000 doses from the U.S., to be distributed to targeted clinics in addition to the pharmacy-based program.

Asked about police and other first responders who see vaccine offered to the general public before them, Dix said the federal age limit for the more portable AstraZeneca vaccine set that program back, but it is being shifted to other supplies.

“We are taking a share, which Dr. Henry described as approximately 10 per cent of our Pfizer and Moderna, and dedicating it towards specific workplace groups who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19,” Dix said. “On that list are clearly first responders and people who work in education amongst others. We’re moving ahead, but more slowly, to target particular work groups and first responders are among the highest priorities there.”

RELATED: Canada faces calls to restrict flights from India

RELATED: Biden says surplus U.S. vaccines can go to Canada

A highlight of the vaccination rollout so far is the focus on Northwest B.C., where the first full-community program was applied in Fort St. James, west of Prince George.

“We have about 16 local health areas of B.C. where more than 50 per cent of the people have been immunized,” Dix said. “Largely and significantly that’s in the Northwest. Communities such as Kitimat and Prince Rupert, Fort St. James and others are at a high level of immunization because of higher Indigenous population and so on.”

Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and other areas with older population is older have seen lower priority for pharmacy-based AstraZeneca immunization because they are receiving a larger share of vaccinations under the age-based program. That program is currently sending clinic invitations to people born in 1958 or earlier.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A topographic (3D) perspective captured from Google Earth, to create a perspective of the approximate proposed cut block outlines on Mount Ida in relation familiar local landmarks. (Alex Inselberg image)
Salmon Arm council’s concerns eased over Mount Ida logging

Fire chief explains proposed cut complements wildfire risk reduction efforts

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Dogs can understand some English

Your morning start for Wednesday, May 12, 2021

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

Followers of CBC reporter Justin McElroy’s twitter feed responded to his criticism of Salmon Arm’s new municipal flag by offering alternative design options. (Justin McElroy/Twitter)
Salmon Arm flag design flounders on internet

‘Business card’ design prompts creative alternatives

RCMP respond to call of handgun in Silver Creek on May 8, 2021. (Black Press Media files)
Report of a handgun in Silver Creek leads police to rat issue

No arrests made after RCMP able to speak to resident

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A 30-year-old Kelowna woman is facing potential charges after allegedly driving impaired before crashing into a Mugford Road residence and fleeing the scene on May 11. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Alleged impaired driver crashes into Kelowna home before fleeing on foot

The crash caused damages to the yard, the surrounding chain fence and the residence’s deck

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

A property crime map for the month of March shows the hot spot for crimes is centered around the area where the Victory Church homeless shelter is located. (City Submitted)
B.C. Premier asked to intervene in Penticton homeless shelter dispute

Mayor sends letter urging premier to reconsider Eby’s use of paramountcy powers

Colleen Price, Vancouver Island University’s bachelor of science in nursing program chairperson, says she is impressed with how students have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Next generation of B.C. nurses already showing resilience

University program head says learning had to be adjusted amidst pandemic

The Vernon Community Arts Centre is seeking member artist submissions for a summer exhibit called Enchanted: A World of Fantasy. Submissions are open until June 30, 2021. (VCAC photo)
Vernon artists’ fantasy worlds wanted for summer exhibit

Vernon Community Arts Centre is seeking submissions for Enchanted: A World of Fantasy

A woman is hoping that her dog Ginger ran away from the fire that erupted in her Osoyoos home Saturday night. The home caught fire twice in two days and is totally destroyed. (Contributed)
Dog missing after saving woman from huge house fire in Osoyoos

The woman escaped the burning home, but she hopes her dog Ginger ran away to safety

The temporary skatepark will be placed between the Capital News Centre (in the parking area) and H20, pictured here (Kelowna Skateboard Association/Contributed).
Kelowna skateboarders hope to get Lower Mission park

The Kelowna Skateboard Association is helping a group of kids get a skatepark for the summer

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old B.C. bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Most Read