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

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin checking drivers on BC highways

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

JANGO the police dog helped track down a suspect on Luckakuck Way in Chilliwack. (RCMP photo)
Alleged thief in Chilliwack can’t fool the nose of JANGO the police dog

An Edmonton man who allegedly broke into a storage container on Luckakuck Way was arrested

Chilliwack RCMP nab two alleged thieves targeting bait vehicle

A man from Port Coquitlam and a woman from Delta were stopped and arrested at Eagle Landing Parkway

The AHL Board of Governors has approved the Vancouver Canucks decision to move their franchise to Abbotsford. (File photo)
AHL approves Canucks’ franchise relocation to Abbotsford

Board of Governors approves move, season set to start on Oct. 15

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Surrey RCMP is investigating after a serious three-vehicle crash at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 128th Street Thursday afternoon (May 6, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Serious crash in Surrey sends 1 to hospital

Surrey RCMP say one of the drivers fled on foot, but was later found at an area hospital

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read