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 boat caught on fire this morning (May 11) in Port Hardy. (Adam Harding/Port Hardy Fire Rescue Facebook photo)
Fishing boat catches fire in Port Hardy, owner’s quick thinking puts out flames

The incident is a good reminder to always have a working fire extinguisher onboard your boat

School District 85 logo
Fort Rupert Elementary School gets funding from MusiCounts

The $1 million investment will support 95 schools

Agree or disagree with North Island Rising? Write a letter to the editor at editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish it online and in print.
McQuarrie: Budget meeting drama caused by unruly councillor

It was an amazing and unexpected response to what should have been… Continue reading

The medical clinic building in Port McNeill. (Bill McQuarrie photo)
Medical clinic gives update on health care in Port McNeill

The town appears to be ‘closer to a new and sustainable medical model for our town’

New electric buses are coming to school districts. (Submitted photo)
New electric school buses will drive North Island forward

Travel on electric school buses is smoother, quieter, and healthier than traditional diesel buses

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

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 bike rider on Vancouver Island already attracting cycle sponsors

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

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Most Read