Senior pleased to be getting COVID-19 vaccine after 'it's taken so long to roll out'
VANCOUVER -- Barrie Chapman is pleased the COVID-19 vaccine is finally rolling out to the general public in B.C.
“It’s been very slow in coming,” the 82-year-old told CTV News Vancouver.
Chapman volunteers as a fitness instructor for Fit Fellas, a program designed for seniors to keep them moving.
“I think that most of the guys in our fitness class and I socialize with on a day to day basis – limited socializing – that they’re disappointed it’s taken so long to roll out,” he said.
His age means he will qualify to make a vaccine appointment the week of March 22, but the four-month delay of the second dose means more uncertainty for him.
“You can’t vaccinate people if you don’t have the vaccine,” said Chapman. “So, it’s been slow in coming and a lot of us have friends south of the border, in the same age groups and younger, and they’ve all had both shots. And they’re wondering, 'When are you coming down? Why is it taking so long?'”
As of Monday, those aged 90 and older and Indigenous people aged 65 and older across the province will be able to book an appointment to get the vaccine. The following week, the appointments will be available for those 85 and older, and the next week those ages 80 and up can call.
“We will get delivery of significant vaccines over the next couple weeks to months, and as long as the deliveries keep up with all we expect, I think we’re well on the way to vaccinating the majority of British Columbians,” said Brian Conway, the medical director for Vancouver’s Infectious Disease Centre.
He explained the only reason to delay the second dose is because of lack of vaccine.
“It is my hope that as vaccine supply picks up, we can backtrack on these decisions and vaccinate everyone as quickly as possible in terms of the second shots,” he said.
But Conway explained the delay will have an impact on the efficacy.
“In the first two weeks after the vaccine, it’s not effective. Beginning of the third week it’s about 90 percent effective,” he said, “And modelling exercises that are now fairly robust suggest that by month four the vaccine efficacy will be down into the 70 percent range.”
So wearing masks and following physical distancing rules will be a ongoing requirement if we want to get through the pandemic and see ballooning case numbers drop. Using Whistler as an example, Conway explained that it is possible to see spread slow.
“By intervening to identify the transmission chains, by closing down the bars and restaurants where this was occurring, by educating people living six people to a two-bedroom condo and how you need to limit how the bulbs are interacting to each other, the spread in Whistler has gone down by 75 per cent,” he said.
Chapman told CTV News there remains a lot of skepticism amongst his fitness group that the mass vaccination program will be smooth once it gets going.
“The information we’ve got is so limited right now, it’s really hard to make any plans and nobody’s really assured that they’re going to get this vaccine,” he said. “Retired people have earned the right to travel, they’ve earned the right to enjoy the rest of their lives, and that’s been restricted for the past year.”
He and his wife usually spend the winters down south, and he said he counts them lucky living where they do that they can continue to golf and be outside year-round. But they are finding the uncertainty difficult.
“You just can’t make any plans, any firm plans and be confident that you’re going to be able to carry them out,” he said, adding his wife is not in his same age group. “She’s younger, so how long is it going to be before she gets it? Maybe another month? Maybe two months?”