How the approved AstraZeneca vaccine could affect B.C.'s mass vaccination plans
VANCOUVER -- It appears unlikely that British Columbians will be able to select which COVID-19 vaccine they receive as mass vaccination clinics expand across the province in the coming months, but the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine may lead to other significant changes to the province's rollout.
“In terms of selecting from the range of options, I don’t believe that’s part of the plan at this point,” Premier John Horgan told reporters Friday when asked if people may be able to pick which of the three approved vaccines they wish to receive.
The comment from Horgan came just hours after the federal government announced Health Canada had approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate, with the first 500,000 doses expected to arrive in the country “in the coming days," according Procurement Minister Anita Anand.
An Ontario infectious disease expert says the vaccine’s lower efficacy shouldn’t dissuade people from getting the vaccine, which is already being used widely in the U.K.
“Even with the variants it is still extremely effective at reducing hospitalizations and almost completely eliminating death,” Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti told CTV News Friday. “These are the two things that are the most important metrics to look at, and are our ticket out of the pandemic.”
It appears the approval could change B.C.’s mass vaccine rollout, which is scheduled to expand significantly in March despite ongoing supply issues.
Health Minister Adrian Dix noted Friday that the rollout would continue to be age-based, with B.C.’s oldest residents getting vaccinated first as the program expands, but he also indicated the Health Canada approval could speed things up for some other groups.
“If we decide that essential workers, for example, will be able to… get early access to AstraZeneca, earlier than they would in the age-based process then they might be interested in doing that,” Dix said. “It adds some complexity to it.”
Further details on B.C.’s vaccine rollout are expected from the province on Monday.
“British Columbians should take great comfort in the fact there are now more options,” Horgan added.“ How that will play out is up to public health officials.”