B.C. has administered 557,508 out of the 736,460 doses of vaccine that it has received from the federal government, meaning it has 178,952 doses on hand, according to its COVID-19 dashboard.
Given that stockpile, it has sped up its age-based thresholds for eligibility, and on March 23 made the vaccination process clearer for those who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable, due to medical conditions, such as because of cancer, transplants or severe respiratory conditions.
Those individuals finally learned when they will be able to start to register for COVID-19 vaccinations: March 29.
This means that approximately 200,000 people in B.C. aged 16 years and older, who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable are eligible to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks. Some of this population will have already been immunized, as part of B.C.'s age-based vaccine program that currently enables people aged 75 years and older to get a dose of vaccine.
The government will send eligible vulnerable people letters in the mail in the coming days with information on how to book appointments, it said March 23.
If people believe that they should be eligible as they are in this group, and they have not received a letter by April 15, they can contact the provincial call centre, or the province's planned online registration and booking system, which is set to launch April 6, to confirm if they are on the official eligibility list. If they are not on the this list, they can speak with their doctor about their eligibility.
The province's age-based eligibility list is at a stage where people born in 1944 or earlier were starting today eligible to book appointments to be vaccinated. On March 25, that age threshold drops by a year, to those born 1945 or earlier.
The ramp up in the number of eligible British Columbians to get vaccinated has helped fuel a rise in actual vaccinations.
Officials provided 18,100 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 18,093 people in the past day, with seven others getting needed second doses.
In total, officials have now given 557,508 jabs in 470,340 arms, with 87,168 people getting needed second doses.
Unfortunately, the vaccinations cannot come soon enough for many, as 682 people were newly detected as having COVID-19 in the past day. That makes 93,253 people in B.C. testing positive for the virus since the first case was detected in late January, 2020.
The percentage of new cases from the Vancouver Coastal Health region has spiked into the 30s, after being consistently in the 20s for many months.
Here is the breakdown of where the 682 newly infected people reside, by health region:
• 229 in Vancouver Coastal Health (33.5%);
• 333 in Fraser Health (48.8%);
• 19 in Island Health (2.8%);
• 76 in Interior Health (11.1%);
• 23 in Northern Health (3.3%); and
• two people who reside outside Canada.
There are 144 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in B.C., although those cases come from retested genetic material that was first determined to simply be the COVID-19 virus. In total, B.C. has had 1,510 cases of the mutant variants, which are a concern because they are believed to spread more easily.
This includes 1,357 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the U.K., 43 cases of the B.1.351 variant first discovered in South Africa, and 110 cases of the P.1 variant first found in Brazil.
So far no one who has contracted a variant of COVID-19 has died in B.C.
Of the variant cases, 171 are active, with the remaining people having recovered, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement.
More than 92.5%, or 86,307 people, who have been infected, are deemed by the province to have recovered.
Serious cases continue to be elevated. Of the 5,409 people actively battling COVID-19 infections, 314 are in hospital – the most since January 25. Of those hospitalized, 83 are sick enough to be in intensive care units.
Another person died in the past day, while battling COVID-19. That raises B.C.'s death toll from the virus to 1,438.
Health officials are monitoring another 9,488 people for symptoms because they have had known contact with at least one individual known to have been infected.
B.C. continues to lag other provinces in the amount of tests that its officials conduct. In B.C., officials have completed 405,608 COVID-19 tests per million people, as of yesterday. Canada-wide, officials have conducted 699,715 tests per million people. These numbers include multiple tests to the many of the same individuals.
One community outbreak at the Bruce Jack Mine has been declared over.
Officials detected no new health-care facility outbreaks in the past day, while outbreaks at Revera Sunwood Retirement Community in Maple Ridge, is said to be over.
That means, the Vancouver Coastal Health, Island Health and Northern Health regions continue to have no outbreaks at seniors' homes.
The two active outbreaks at seniors' living facilities in Fraser Health are at Fleetwood Place in Surrey and Oceana PARCin White Rock.
There is also an outbreak in Interior Health at the Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna.
The seven hospitals in B.C. that have outbreaks are:
• Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody;
• Kelowna General Hospital in Kelowna;
• Mission Memorial Hospital in Mission;
• Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge;
• Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey;
• UBC Hospital, and
• Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver.