VANCOUVER -- Health officials have made good on a promise to provide a plan to vaccinate pregnant people in B.C. against COVID-19, announcing the next day that expectant residents aged 16 and up are now eligible.

In a news release Tuesday, health officials said those who are pregnant and within that age group are now a priority in its immunization plan.

"All Health Canada-approved vaccines are safe and effective, and I encourage everyone to register and receive their vaccine as soon as they are eligible. Today, this includes people who are pregnant," Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, said in the release.

The news came just a day after she'd told media her teams were working on a program for vaccinating expecting parents, and that an update would be announced in "the coming days."

She said data reviewed by health officials shows those who are pregnant may experience severe illness from the disease "at a rate that is similar to people who are in their 50s."

Prioritizing their vaccination adds another layer of protection, she said, for those people as well as their babies.

In the release from the province, a doctor at BC Women's Hospital and the Provincial Health Services Authority said she hopes parents will take advantage of the change.

"My hope is that knowing vaccines are safe and effective at any point in pregnancy will encourage those who are currently pregnant to take the opportunity to get vaccinated," Dr. Deborah Money said.