The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 has officially arrived on Vancouver Island and the first few health care workers received a dose in Victoria this morning.
Among them were Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick.
“I’m getting immunized to demonstrate my full confidence in the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and to show my support for health care workers across BC who have worked so hard during this pandemic,” said Henry in a statement on Tuesday.
WATCH: Dr. Bonnie Henry receives Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Source: Island Health)
Dena Scriven, a nursing assistant in long-term care, was the first health care worker within Island Health to receive the vaccine.
“I felt a little bit nervous walking into that room with everybody, but it is a vaccine I have read a lot about,” said Scriven, in a statement. “I had no worries. I’m confident it is safe.”
The vaccines first arrived in the Lower Mainland last week, and doses are being delivered to every other health authority this week.
According to Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health received two full trays of the Pfizer vaccine—i.e. 1,950 doses—on Monday.
As of noon on Tuesday, 62 people in Victoria received the vaccine. First priority for the vaccine is given to workers at long term care facilities.
The next round of doses are expected to arrive in the Island Health region the first week of January, but the exact number is unknown.
The Pfizer vaccine is currently only available to health care workers as it cannot be transported outside of designated delivery areas to be delivered to long term care facility residents.
At a press briefing on Monday, Henry said there are a total of nine designated sites across BC where the vaccine is being delivered this week, two of which are on Vancouver Island. Two more sites have been identified for vaccine delivery, in central and in northern island.
Strict requirements for the Pfizer vaccine, including storing it at temperatures below -70ºC, means it is not currently possible to move it to long term care homes to be administered to residents there.
Dr. Henry has stated that once those requirements are loosened, or once the Moderna vaccine is approved, the province can start rolling the vaccines out to long term care facilities.
So far, over 3,644 health care workers in the province have received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Here’s a breakdown of timeline and priority groups slated to receive the vaccine:
First priority groups
- Long-term care and assisted living facility residents and staff
- Health care facility staff for COVID-19 patients in settings like Intensive Care Units, COVID-19 wards and emergency departments
- Indigenous people living in rural or remote communities
- High risk people living in group settings like shelters
- People over 80 years old
Second priority groups
In spring 2021 as more vaccine becomes available, a second phase of vaccination will begin for:
- Older people under age 80 in descending five-year-age groups, with a focus on the oldest people first
- Key frontline workers including:
- All other healthcare workers
- Fire and first responders
- People working in grocery stores
- People working in K to 12 education settings and child care providers
- People working in transportation
- People working in manufacturing and production facilities
After these groups are immunized, all other members of the population will have an opportunity to be vaccinated.