As part of British Columbia’s COVID-19 immunization strategy, the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations began the week of December 14, 2020.
Two vaccines, the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine, have been approved for use by Health Canada.
Reminder: Provincial Health Officer (PHO) orders and guidelines remain in place for everyone, regardless if they have received the vaccine.
The BC Government has announced that the COVID-19 vaccine will be free for everyone in British Columbia who is eligible to receive it. The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), Health Canada, and the BC Government are the best sources of COVID-19 vaccine information.
The Immunize BC Operations Centre will ensure vaccines are available to everyone in BC who is recommended to get them. The primary goal is to make sure BC’s public health system is ready to administer vaccines as they become available.
The BCCDC is working closely with provincial partners, including the Provincial Health Services Authority, First Nations Health Authority, Health Emergency Management BC, Emergency Management BC, Canadian Red Cross, and Canadian Armed Forces, to ensure BC’s system is ready to receive, handle, store, and distribute all vaccine types as they become available. The College plays no role in determining BC’s vaccination strategy or timelines in respect of the rollout of the provincial immunization program. Likewise, it is outside the remit of the College’s regulatory role to advocate for the vaccination of our registrants to be prioritized.
In December of 2020, BC began receiving small amounts of the Pfizer vaccine. Starting the week of December 21, 2020, vaccines will be delivered regularly to locations in all health authorities in BC. The Moderna vaccine was approved for use in Canada on December 23, 2020.
Getting the vaccine
The first limited round of vaccinations began in December 2020, with health care workers who work in long-term care homes and on the frontlines of COVID-19 response in acute care among the first to receive the vaccine.
Vaccines will continue arriving each week in BC in increasing quantities, with targeted deployment for people in additional priority groups. Expected timelines will depend on vaccine approval and availability.
Priority vaccine groups
BC’s vaccination strategy has been developed based on recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), and is focused on protecting those most vulnerable to severe illness first. NACI recommends certain populations be prioritized for early COVID-19 vaccination.
Public health will arrange for the following priority groups to be vaccinated against COVID-19. No action is required on your part.
First groups for vaccination
The first groups to get vaccinated between December and February:
- Residents, staff, and essential visitors to long-term care and assisted-living residences
- Individuals in hospital or community awaiting a long-term care placement
- Health care workers providing care for COVID-19 patients in settings like Intensive Care Units, emergency departments, medical/surgical units, and paramedics
- Remote and isolated Indigenous communities
From February to March, the immunization program will expand:
- Community-based seniors, age 80 and above; Indigenous seniors, age 65 and above
- People experiencing homelessness and/or using shelters
- Provincial correctional facilities
- Adults in group homes or mental health residential care
- Long term home support recipients and staff
- Hospital staff, community GPs, and medical specialists
- Other Indigenous communities not vaccinated in first priority group
After initial priority groups are vaccinated, additional groups may be prioritized for vaccination. The scheduling of priority groups for vaccination may be modified as transmission is monitored.
Timelines for general population
Following all priority groups, all others in BC can get vaccinated as more vaccine becomes available, if the vaccines available are recommended for them.
A registration and record system is in development, including a process to register for vaccine access and to receive a formal record of immunization.
There is no need to call your local health authority at this time
Everyone vaccines are recommended for in BC will have the opportunity to get the vaccine by the end of 2021.
Routine precautions reminder
Registrants are reminded that routine precautions, including handwashing, physical distancing, and frequent cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces should be in place at all times. BCCDC recommends that all health care workers practice fastidious hand hygiene and cough etiquette, in addition to instructing and assisting patients to do the same.
For more COVID-19 vaccine information, see the BCCDC.