VANCOUVER -- The time between first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses will be extended again, B.C. health officials announced Monday.

In a news conference announcing the next phase in the province's COVID-19 vaccination plan, officials said international and Canadian data supports a proposal to extend the time between the two doses to four months.

B.C. health officials said they decided over this past weekend to go ahead with the proposal. As of Monday, all appointments for second doses will be scheduled four months after the first.

"The important thing that we've learned is that these vaccines work, they give a very high level of protection and that protection lasts for many months," Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

"Extending this second dose provides very high, real-world protection to more people sooner."

The extension will apply to the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. 

It's expected an announcement on that extension will be made by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization in the coming days and health officials said that decision is likely to align with B.C.'s.

Previously, officials in B.C. had extended the time between shots from 35 to 42 days. That extension was partially due to a shortage of vaccine doses, however. 

In announcing the extension, officials said there is an immune response benefit to lengthening the time between doses.

Extending that time will also give health authorities the chance to give a first dose to more of the general public sooner, officials said.

Henry, who received her first COVID-19 vaccine dose in late December, said she won't be receiving her second until at least four months after.

"Or maybe even longer, if we determine that's better for our own immune systems," she said.