Every week, the province uses up almost all its COVID-19 vaccine supply, says Health Minister Adrian Dix. Last week, that meant 408,724 doses administered over seven days — part of the “extraordinary organization” required to keep B.C.’s vaccine program rolling.
“I’m so grateful to everyone involved and to British Columbians who have come and gotten vaccinated,” Dix said Monday as the province reported 277 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, including 12 on Vancouver Island.
There are 1,537 known active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Of those, 136 were in hospital, including 42 in intensive or critical care. Another four deaths were recorded over the weekend, for a total of 1,734 in the province since the pandemic began.
The province is receiving regular shipments of about 327,000 doses a week of Pfizer and expects 962,000 doses of Moderna over the next two weeks — more than it has received to date. It’s hoped the Moderna delivery will help reduce the interval between shots at the age-based vaccination clinics to eight or nine weeks.
“With the new vaccine that we have coming — hopefully at the end of this week with Moderna — we can augment our clinics and be able to move people up,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “The goal is to get an invite out to people by week six to seven [after their first dose] so that they can be immunized around week eight or nine.”
Most people right now are getting their second dose about 10 weeks after the first, Henry said. There are several, however, who got their vaccines in March who are waiting longer due to heavy demand and a bit of a bulge in the age-based system.
As of Monday, 75.9 per cent of the adult population had received one dose of a vaccine. About four million doses have been administered, including 613,453 second doses.
The province is pushing to vaccinate 100 per cent of the population, said Henry, “but our target immunization rates are at least 85 per cent, 90 per cent.”
Pop-up clinics where people can register on site and immediately be vaccinated with first doses will be appearing in “dozens of communities,” Dix said.
For people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine through a pharmacy or workplace, more information on mixing and matching vaccines is expected from the U.K. by the end of June, said Henry.
Last month, the province said British Columbians who received AstraZeneca, a viral-vector vaccine, will be able to choose AstraZeneca or a messenger-RNA vaccine such as Moderna or Pfizer for their second dose. Rare vaccine-induced blood clots have developed in people who have received AstraZeneca; there have been three cases recorded in B.C. The clots are thought to be even more rare for second shots.
Public health officials tend to say the best vaccine is the first one offered to ensure full protection. Generally, people are advised to stick with the same type of vaccine.
“I can’t give you a definitive answer right now about whether it’s the same or better to receive an mRNA vaccine after a first dose of AstraZeneca,” Henry said.
“I can tell you that it’s not worse and that there is what we call non-inferiority, which is kind of a funny way of saying in the medical terms that [getting Moderna or Pfizer is] at least as good as receiving a second dose of AstraZeneca.”
Premier John Horgan, who got a first dose of AstraZeneca, said he plans to get a second dose of the same.
“I have a front-row seat to the best advice in the province, and the advice I’ve been given is the best shot I can get is the first shot that is offered to me,” he said. “So, I offer that to those who are grappling with that personal decision. That is the choice that my spouse and I have made.”