COVID-19 vaccines: Here's B.C.'s full immunization timeline through September
VANCOUVER -- British Columbians eager to know when it'll be their turn to get a COVID-19 vaccine were given a full immunization schedule on Friday.
Premier John Horgan announced the full plan alongside Health Minister Adrian Dix, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, who is B.C.'s executive lead for the province's immunization rollout.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all in extremely difficult ways," Horgan said on Friday.
"Together, we have faced this pandemic with strength, courage and compassion, and we are starting to feel optimistic that one day COVID-19 will be in our rear-view."
The province said its goal is to reduce deaths and severe illness, and since older people are at highest risk of falling ill from the virus, groups will be prioritized by age.
Officials explained the plan is based only on access to the Pfizer's and Moderna's two-dose vaccines. If other vaccines are approved for use in Canada, more populations or entire communities may be targeted at an earlier date.
Previously, B.C.'s health officials announced who would be vaccinated in Phase 2, taking place in February and March, including community-based seniors who are at least 80 years old and Indigenous seniors who are at least 65 years old.
On Friday, health officials announced Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the immunization plan, which together stretch from April through to September.
"At every step, our plan puts the health and safety of our most vulnerable people at the centre, and when it's your turn, I encourage everyone to get their COVID-19 vaccine and help us move forward, together, to a healthier province," Horgan said.
Phase 3, from April to June, includes people aged 79 to 65, in five-year increments based on birth year. People with several heath conditions will also be eligible during this phase as they're considered "clinically extremely vulnerable." A full list of those conditions is included at the bottom of this article.
Here is the timeline for Phase 3, based on birth year:
- Anyone aged 79 to 70 can get their first dose in April and their second dose in May.
- Anyone aged 69 to 65 can get their first dose in May and their second dose in June.
- Anyone aged 64 to 60 can get their first dose in June and their second dose in July.
- Anyone aged 79 to 16 who is considered "clinically extremely vulnerable" can get their doses between April and June.
"Our immunization plan is based on evidence and data and focused on immunizing people who are most vulnerable to the virus first," Henry said Friday.
"We know that the single-greatest risk factor for illness and death from COVID-19 is increasing age."
Phase 4, from July to September, will include people aged 59 to 18.
Here is the timeline for Phase 4, based on birth year:
- Anyone aged 59 to 40 can get their first dose in July and their second dose in August.
- Anyone aged 39 to 35 can get their first dose in July or August and their second dose in August or September.
- Anyone aged 34 to 30 can get their first dose in August and their second dose in September.
- Anyone aged 29 to 25 can get their first dose in August or September and their second dose in September.
- Anyone aged 24 to 18 can get their first and second doses in September.
Extensive trials haven't been completed on people under the age of 18, officials explained.
"Right now it's not necessarily a concern in that the evidence still supports young people are much less likely to get infected and much less likely to have severe illness," Henry said.
"It is very likely once we have more traditional vaccines, they will be available for younger people … but our focus is on those most likely to have severe illness."
How do I sign up for a vaccine?
More clinics will be set up in March by health authorities and may include mobile sites and home visits where necessary. Large spaces will likely be used for mass immunization in urban areas including in stadiums, convention halls, arenas, community halls and school gyms. In rural areas, mobile clinics in self-contained vehicles – like transit buses – might be used.
To get a vaccine, pre-registering will begin in March, with appointments set up by age about two to four weeks in advance. Registration will be available by mobile device, computer or phone. As well, a province-wide communication campaign is launching in February to let British Columbians know how they can register.
On the day of their appointment, people will have to go through a check-in process, get their vaccine and then wait in an observation area for about 15 minutes afterwards to watch for adverse reactions. Those who get a vaccine will receive a paper copy of their record and a reminder for when to book their second dose. Digital copies of a vaccine record will also be available.
Health officials explained that nobody will lose their place in line. For example, if someone is eligible to get their vaccine in Phase 2 but can't for whatever reason, they can be immunized at any point after.
What health conditions are considered 'clinically extremely vulnerable'?
Officials explained on Friday that anyone aged 16 to 79 who has a condition that makes them extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 can get their dose starting in April, regardless of age. Officials estimate there are about 180,000 people in B.C. who are eligible for early vaccination.
- Solid organ transplant recipients
- People with specific cancers including of the blood or bone marrow such as leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
- People with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
- People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- People having other targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- People who have had bone marrow or stem-cell transplants in the last six months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- People with severe respiratory conditions, including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- People with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency, homozygous sickle cell disease)
- People on immunosuppression therapies enough to significantly increase risk of infection (biologic modifiers, high-dose steroids, AZT, cyclophosphamide)
- People who had a splenectomy (spleen removed)
- Adults with very significant developmental disabilities that increase risk (details to come from the health ministry)
- Adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (Stage 5)
- Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
- Significant neuromuscular conditions requiring respiratory support
As of Thursday, B.C. had administered 104,901 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines so far, including 1,680 second doses.
It's estimated approximately 4.3 million people will be vaccinated in B.C. by the end of September.