VANCOUVER -- B.C.'s top health officials have announced another 153 positive COVID-19 tests in B.C., bringing the province's weekly rolling average of new cases even lower.

In a news conference Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix shared the last case information, which brought B.C.'s total since the start of the pandemic to 145,996.

Of the 1,910 current active cases, 176 are in hospital, with 49 of those in intensive care, Henry said.

The provincial health officer also announced four additional deaths. In B.C., a total of 1,729 people have died from the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

"Our condolences are with the family, friends and caregivers of the people who have died as a result of COVID-19," Henry said.

While the new case count was five higher Thursday than the day before – when officials announced 148 new positive tests – the rolling weekly average dropped from 168 to 161. The last time the weekly average was lower than 161 was Oct. 20.

Second doses ramping up

Henry took a moment to explain that those waiting for their second COVID-19 vaccine dose won't receive an invitation to book an appointment until at least eight weeks after their first dose.

"At this point, given the strong demand, appointments may take one, to two, to three weeks later as we get through the large group of people in this first cohort," she said.

"We're using every last dose to get people fully immunized as soon as we can. That means it is important to book your appointment so that we know how many people are showing up and can have those doses there."

Henry said clinics are still limited by the supply available in the province and those who may have to wait shouldn't worry.

"I would like to assure people that this dose interval is well within the safe range for everyone," she said. "There's evidence emerging that you get a stronger and longer-lasting protection if the interval is greater than eight weeks."

Henry said the province is expecting to receive more Moderna doses in the coming weeks, which will help the province expand its rollout even further.

As of Thursday, 74.9 per cent of eligible adults in B.C. has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Of people 12 and older, 72.8 per cent have received their first dose.

In total, that means 3,823,103 doses of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered in the province. Of those, 443,562 are second doses.

"We know that people are very concerned about getting that second dose in and it is important to boost that personal protection," she said. "But we all need to recognize that our strategy of getting as many with their first dose as possible is working and our risk for all of us is going down."