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Focus of vaccinations will remain on seniors, care workers for ‘next week or two’

More than 40,000 British Columbians vaccinated so far
Delivery of Pfizer vaccine
Delivery of Pfizer vaccine

Vulnerable seniors and those who care for them will remain the top-priority for COVID-19 vaccinations for at least another week or two, according to B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“As we know, the burden of COVID-19 has been particularly heavy … on our seniors and elders and those who care for them, and that is where our focus has been and will continue to be for the next week or two here in British Columbia as we use the vaccine that we receive,” she said during a Thursday (January 7) briefing.

“And we’re going to continue to focus, as we say, to try and protect those who are most at risk in these first few weeks with the limited supply that we have.”

On Monday, Henry revealed B.C.’s plans to vaccinate 70,000 residents and staff at long-term care facilities by the end of January.

The province also intends to vaccinate 30,000 frontline health-care workers — specifically, paramedics, and those who work in intensive care units and emergency departments at hospitals — by the end of the month.

Another 13,000 people in assisted living are expected to receive at least their first dose in January.

Bonnie confirmed Thursday that 41,064 British Columbians across all health regions have received their first dose since vaccines began rolling in last month.

Both the Moderna Inc. vaccine and Pfizer Inc. -BioNTech SE vaccine require two doses.

After the top-priority groups receive their vaccines in January, health officials plan to administer vaccines to elderly British Columbians above the age of 80.

Once vaccinated, the province will administer doses in descending five-year age brackets.

The province expects to have 792,000 doses delivered by the end of March.

Of those, 542,000 will come from Pfizer and 250,000 from Moderna.

Because the Moderna doses are easier to transport than the competing Pfizer vaccine, it’s seen as critical in ensuring remote regions in B.C. and Canada have access to vaccinations.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, which must be maintained at temperatures as low as -80C, the Moderna needs to be maintained at just -20C.

Delivery of the Pfizer vaccine is currently the responsibility of the manufacturer due to the vaccine’s sensitivity, while FedEx Express Canada Corp. and Innomar Strategies Inc. are handling Moderna’s deliveries.