Details on B.C.'s mass vaccination plan coming next week
VANCOUVER -- When British Columbia’s long-term care and assisted care workers and residents have all been vaccinated, seniors 80 and older who live in the community are next in line. Details of how and when they’ll get their shots will be announced by the provincial health officer on Monday.
“These seniors and elders will receive vaccine information in the next two weeks, so please be patient, we have not forgotten you,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry. “These plans are in place, and we will be reaching out to you.”
While seniors in B.C. wait another week for details on how and when they’ll be vaccinated, starting Wednesday those 75 and older in Alberta will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and can book appointments for both doses.
“We are so so far behind,” said BC Liberal health critic Renee Merrifield. “It aggravates me, it makes me angry, because the reality is we shouldn’t be. There’s no reason to be.” She said other jurisdictions have made more headway and argues B.C. has “the most bungled vaccine rollout, I would say, across the country.”
The opposition believes the appointment booking website should already be up and running and mass vaccination sites should be ready to go.
“Would I love to see tours of these facilities well? Absolutely, and we should be. We should be at this time. And we have not seen that yet,” said Merrifield.
Henry defended the province’s vaccine rollout Tuesday, saying, “We have not spent any time wasted over the last few weeks making sure that we are putting all those pieces in place, connecting with arenas, community centres and schools, places where we will be providing immunization in the community.”
Three Surrey rec centres have been chosen as mass vaccination sites and others will likely be announced next week, with a goal of having them operational by early April.
Mahesh Nagarajan, a professor of operations at UBC's Sauder School of Business, said its a huge undertaking.
“All of these come with constraints. You need to to look at space, you need to look at parking for people, you need to look at social distancing,” he said. “You need to do a lot of hiring for people to be able to work in these places. So people who can vaccinate, who can greet people, who can monitor for allergic reactions.”
That’s work the province insists is happening behind the scenes.
“Without a doubt there is going to be some hiccups and some bumps, but we are working hard so we can make it as seamless and possible for everyone, starting with people who are most at risk,” said Henry.
British Columbians who are 80 and older will get some vaccination answers next Monday. Everyone else will have to keep waiting.