Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

B.C. to target people ages 40+ in ‘high risk communities’ with AstraZeneca vaccine

Whole community approach will target high-risk areas

The province will begin vaccinating adults in Enderby and Invermere in the Interior Health Authority as part of a whole community approach.

The program is based on past successful COVID vaccinations in high-risk communities such as Prince Rupert and Whistler.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has seen a series of setbacks in recent months and weeks. At first, it was restricted for people ages 65 and up by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization – a recommendation which has since been reversed. Since then, NACI has advised the province not to offer it to people below age 55 due to extremely rare but serious blood clots. However, the federal health minister said Sunday that there was nothing stopping provinces from offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults.

READ MORE: Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

On Monday (April 19), the province announced that it has immediate access to 75,000 doses from the U.S. Health officials said that there have been 114,171 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered so far in B.C., 91,000 of those through pharmacies. An additional 88,000 are still available in 604 pharmacies across the province.

The province said it will begin setting up AstraZeneca vaccine clinics for people 40 years old and up in 13 neighbourhoods and communities across B.C. People ages 40 and up outside the high-risk communities will also now be eligible to book an AstraZeneca vaccine at participating pharmacies.

This will run separately from the age-based Pfizer and Moderna program and the pharmacies AstraZeneca vaccination program for people ages 55 to 65.

The “high risks” Community Health Service Areas are, with COVID-19 cases per 100,000:

  • Dawson Creek: 552 cases per 100,000
  • West Newton (Surrey): 405 cases per 100,000
  • Whalley (Surrey): 399 cases per 100,000
  • North Delta: 359 cases per 100,000
  • East Newton (Surrey): 353 cases per 100,000
  • Panorama (Surrey): 353 cases per 100,000
  • South Langley Township: 351 cases per 100,000
  • West Abbotsford: 307 cases per 100,000
  • North Surrey (Surrey): 288 cases per 100,000
  • Port Coquitlam: 275 cases per 100,000
  • Squamish: 267 per 100,000
  • Kensington (Vancouver): 257 per 100,000
  • Fleetwood (Surrey): 254 per 100,000

The number of unvaccinated people ages 40 and up in each community varies from 20,795 in East Newton to 3,345 in South Langley Township.

A list of 13 neighbourhoods and communities where people ages 40 and up will soon be able to get an AstraZeneca vaccine. (Government of B.C.)

B.C.’s progress on vaccinating its population

B.C.’s age-based program is continuing along; currently, appointments are being booked for people ages 63 and up, while the province hopes to vaccinate people ages 65 and up with existing appointments in the next three weeks.

Of B.C.’s 4.3 million people who will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, 27 per cent (1.15 million) have gotten at least one dose, along with 157,336, or 60 per cent, of people deemed clinically extremely vulnerable. All long-term care and assisted living staff and residents have been offered the vaccine, with about 90 per cent uptake.

The province is expecting to get 1.47 million doses between April 14 and May 31, which B.C. said will lead to 60 per cent of adults in the province getting their first dose. All adults in B.C. are still expected to get their first dose by the end of June and their second by September.

B.C. will continue to focus on vaccinating frontline workers, with the emphasis on first responders, school staff and teachers and child care workers. Higher risk workplace will also continue to be vaccinated.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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