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

Just Posted

Kelly Servinski, of the Tutti Hotel in Clinton, climbs above the river. (Photo credit: http://www.sterlinglorence.com/)
Gravel is the new gold: Cyclist bumps new biking trend

There’s gravel in them thar hills around Clinton

Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP, says it’s important for the various detachments in the area to have a co-operative working relationship in an effort to keep the South Cariboo safe. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
District-wide effort to keep South Cariboo safe

RCMP detachments collaborate, offer resources to tackle crime

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
Drier weather good for calving season in spring

This dry weather has allowed us to have our cows in a treed pasture

The District of 100 Mile House office. (File photo)
Tax rate for 100 Mile residents dips slightly

Average house assessment up, tax rate down

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Tinder, an online dating application that allows users to anonymously swipe to like or dislike other’s profiles. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. man granted paternity test to see if Tinder match-up led to a ‘beautiful baby’

The plaintiff is seeking contact with the married woman’s infant who he believes is his child

Nurse Tami Arnold prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. (Kareem Elgazzar/AP)
B.C. adults 30+ now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Health officials made the announcement Wednesday afternoon

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
Watchdog: logging practices put Vancouver Island old growth, biodiversity at risk

Forest Practices Board has issues with BC Timber Sales practices in Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni

Erik Christian Oun, who worked for the Coquitlam school district, has had his teaching licence suspended for half a year. (Pixabay)
B.C. teacher suspended after calling students ‘cutie’ and ‘sweetheart’ in online messages

Erik Oun’s licence has been suspended for half a year, a decision made by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

Most Read