#BCImmunizingPlan; #AgeBasedApproach; #highRiskPopulations; #Elderly
British Columbia/Canada: Details of plans to immunize 4.3 million British Columbians by September was revealed by the government of B.C. on Friday by using the criteria of a continued age-based approach, vaccinating the high-risk and most elderly populations by April before starting with younger adults in the summer.
BC Immunization plan. Image credit: Facebook official
The proposed schedule is split into four phases.
The Phase 1 schedule which runs from Dec 2020 to Feb 2021 includes residents, staff, essential visitors with long-term care and assisted living; people waiting for long-term care; people in remote Indigenous communities, and hospital workers caring for patients with COVID-19 to be vaccinated.
The 2nd phase from Feb to Mar would focus on seniors over 80; Indigenous seniors over 65, Indigenous elders; more health-care workers; vulnerable populations, and nursing-home staff.
During Phase 3, from Apr to June, members of the general public aged 60 to 79 would be vaccinated.
Phase 4 which runs from Jul to Sept would vaccinate members of the general public aged 18 to 59.
B.C. is currently in Phase 1 and to date, more than 100,000 people in B.C. have received their first vaccine dose as part of Phase 1.
Out of roughly 4.3 million eligible British Columbians would be vaccinated before the end of September, while about 900,000 people of the remainder of B.C.'s population is not currently eligible because they're under 17.
"At every step, our plan puts the health and safety of those most at risk first. Everyone in British Columbia has been affected by the pandemic, but we are not all equally vulnerable to the virus," said Premier John Horgan, CBC News reported.
As the current plan depends on vaccine availability, the current version based on a steady supply of the two vaccines currently approved in Canada: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. and in the case of delay in the delivery of these vaccines, the immunization schedule will be delayed. On the other hand, if a third vaccine is approved, the timeline could speed up.
People between the ages of 16 and 69 who are deemed "clinically extremely vulnerable" due to certain conditions — like cancer, severe immunodeficiency, or serious respiratory conditions — will be eligible for inclusion in Phase 3.
A registration process for most residents beginning in mid-March would enable people to pre-register two to four weeks before they are eligible to receive their first dose, setting up appointments based on age by phone or online.
The plan is no longer based on a person's profession, with the exception of health-care staff.
Horgan said he's received a pile of mail from advocates asking for higher priority for some front-line workers — like teachers, first-responders and grocery store staff those workers.
"All of the arguments were very compelling … but the science is pretty clear: age is the dominant determinant factor on severe illness and death."
Both Horgan and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said those people could be vaccinated sooner than scheduled if more vaccines are approved by Health Canada. The schedule could speed up if other vaccines are added to B.C.'s arsenal, including the AstraZeneca vaccine, expected to be greenlit in the spring.
The delay in Canada's procurement of its deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines would likely affect the current B.C. schedule.
The province will be establishing vaccination clinics across 172 communities in March. Mobile sites will be used for particularly remote communities.