Frustration grows as B.C vaccination rate falls way behind Washington state's
VANCOUVER -- After B.C.’s supply dried up in early February, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is relieved shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have begun arriving again, with large deliveries expected in the coming weeks.
“This is encouraging. Our supply remains somewhat limited, and we need to continue to build up our program as more supply comes in and we have more stability on the arrival of the vaccine,” Henry said Tuesday.
The province has now administered 171,755 doses of the vaccine, with a goal of vaccinating one tenth of the population, or 500,000 people, by April 1.
Just south of the border, Washington state has already vaccinated more than twice that number, now surpassing 1,050,000 doses.
“They will get it done faster than us, and it is depressing,” said Mahesh Nagarajan, a professor of operations at UBC's Sauder School of Business. “Many of us know people down south, and you know people in their 50s and 60s are getting vaccinated in the U.S. and we haven’t even vaccinated our 80-year-old people in B.C. So you’re asking, what’s going on?”
Henry says she shares the frustration that Canada has been unable to secure as much vaccine as the U.S. and other countries, delaying B.C.’s recovery.
“I don’t know if you can read frustration in my face, but of course we do,” she said. “It is what it is, it doesn’t make vaccine come any quicker to be upset or angry or mad about it, we are playing the hand we were dealt.”
With no domestic vaccine production and locked-in agreements with manufacturers, Canada is woefully behind the U.S. and the U.K. in the number of daily vaccine doses per 100 residents and percentage of people vaccinated.
“It is certainly disappointing,” said Nagarajan. “It is natural as a first world country to benchmark us with others, certainly one south of the border.”
“Past decisions that were made about this have effected us now, there is no question about that. But as Dr. Henry has said, we have to deal with the situation in front of us, and simply complaining about it is not sufficient,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.
But Nagarajan predicts the complaints will only grow louder
“When you hear life getting back to normal in other counties and our life is still not back, that’s when things are going to be really bad,” he said.
Because vaccine procurement rests solely with the federal government, all British Columbia can do is wait and be ready when the doses do come.
“We will do what we can with as much vaccine as we see, as soon as we get it,” said Henry.