Half of eligible B.C. adults have a received first vaccine dose, Dix says; invitations go to age 30+

More than half the adults eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine have had their first dose, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday as the province reported 600 new cases of the virus, including eight in Island Health.

“We’re clearing today the 50 per cent threshold of people who are currently eligible, those adults over 18 immunized in B.C., which is an important landmark,” Dix said.

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The province reported almost 2.3 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., of which 115,295 were second doses.

“It will soon be the case that everyone in B.C. will have access to book their appointments,” said Dix. “So what’s really important right now is that everybody, especially younger people, register.”

Seventy per cent of people age 50 and older, and 62 per cent of people 40 and over, have had their first dose. “We’re making progress — we’re 50 per cent plus — but 50 per cent leaves 50 per cent, so we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Dix said.

About 2.5 million of an eligible 4.3 million people in the province are registered to be vaccinated.

People age 30 and older and Indigenous people 18 and older can now book vaccine appointments in the age-based provincial Get Vaccinated program, which uses Pfizer and Moderna.

Vancouver Island pharmacies are administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to those 30 and older who have booked appointments. About 20,000 doses of AstraZeneca were sent to pharmacies in Island Health and Interior Health late last week. A remaining 15,000 doses are being reserved for second doses.

“Given the limited availability of the AstraZeneca vaccine supply, we are holding all remaining AstraZeneca vaccine for dose-two booster immunizations,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“Existing pharmacy bookings will proceed, but no additional appointments will be accepted at this time,” Henry and Dix said in a joint statement. This follows Ontario pausing the use of first doses of AstraZeneca on Tuesday, citing a rare vaccine-induced blood clot, while Alberta said it had run out of supply.

Henry is awaiting the results of “mix and match” studies on the interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, to determine options for second doses.

Everyone will receive a ­second dose within 16 weeks of their first to maximize protection, Henry said.

The province is also gearing up to vaccinate children 12 to 18. Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, who is in charge of the immunization rollout, and others are preparing the plan, Dix said. “You’ll hear about [it] soon,” he added.

On Wednesday, there were 5,887 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, of whom 423 were in hospital, including 141 in intensive care. On the Island, the number of active cases was 144, with 72 in the south, 50 in the central region, and 22 in the north.

Another COVID-related death was reported in B.C., for a total of 1,625 since the pandemic began.

“Vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel in this pandemic, and that light is growing brighter by the day,” said Henry.

Health authorities released municipality-level COVID-19 maps on Wednesday after internal reports containing such data were leaked from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control last week.

The distribution of COVID-19 across the Island shows no to low average case counts of between 0.1 and five cases per 100,000 people. The more detailed maps show new cases, positive test rates, and vaccinations for the week of May 4 to May 10.

First dose vaccination rates for adults 55 and older are more than 80 per cent in North Saanich, Central Saanich, the Gulf Islands, Colwood, Metchosin, Oak Bay, with other areas in the 61 to 80 per cent range.

Find the BCCDC maps at: bccdc.ca/Health-Info-Site/ Documents/COVID_sitrep/Case_testing_vaccination_maps-05122021.pdf

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

Register for a vaccination appointment online or by phone. Invitations to book an appointment, after registering, are currently being issued to people born in 1991 or earlier (age 30-plus) and to Indigenous people age 18-plus.

> gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated

> 1-833-838-2323, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 7 days a week

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