Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health (Colin Smith Takes Pics)

Beginning in April, BC residents deemed to be in priority groups including front-line workers such as teachers, grocery store staff will begin receiving vaccines.

In a joint press conference held by Dr. Bonnie Henry, Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Penny Ballem on Thursday, it was announced more than 300,000 front-line workers in BC will be able to receive their first vaccine before their dated phase.

“We know how challenging this pandemic has been on our front-line workers,” said Premier John Horgan.

“Many of these people have come to work throughout this pandemic, continuing to teach and care for our children, stock the shelves of our local grocery store and keep our communities safe. By immunizing these front-line workers, we are making workplaces and communities throughout our province safer,” said Horgan.

The Ministry of Health said people in priority groups will receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in April.

Those groups include:

  • First responders like police, firefighters, and emergency transport.
  • K-12 educational staff.
  • Child-care staff.
  • Grocery store workers
  • Bylaw and quarantine officers.
  • Staff living in shared housing such as places like ski hills (Whistler)
  • Postal workers
  • Manufacturing workers;
  • Wholesale/warehousing employees
  • Correctional facilities staff
  • Cross-border transport staff.

These priority groups have been identified as workers in places and sectors where:

  • the use of personal protective equipment and barriers can be challenging;
  • outbreaks and clusters have occurred or are ongoing;
  • workers must live or work in congregate settings; or
  • maintaining the workforce for a critical service is necessary.

“The additional supply of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine allows us to strategically target immunizations to maximize the protection of our province,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s provincial health officer.

“With each person who receives any of our three safe and effective vaccines, we are all that much safer. This targeted outreach builds on the momentum we now have with our age-based program to protect those who have been at work every day, without break and without question, for the past year,” said Henry.

In total, BC expects to receive approximately 340,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of May.

The Province will use a combination of community pharmacists, existing immunization clinics, and mobile clinics at some worksites to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to front-line workers.

The age-based vaccine rollout using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is also accelerating and moving forward ahead of schedule.

Currently, every senior born in 1941 or before (80 years old and over) and Indigenous peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years old and over) will be eligible to book a vaccination appointment by Friday, March 19th.

The next age cohort is eligible to call as early as Saturday, March 20th.

The call centre approach through health authorities has now been extended to include those born between the years of 1942 to 1951 (79-70-year-olds) and Indigenous peoples born in 1966 and before (55 and over).

This age cohort call-in schedule will begin as follows:

  • age 79 and Indigenous peoples 55 and older – Saturday, March 20 at noon
  • age 78 – Monday, March 22 at noon
  • age 77 – Tuesday, March 23 at noon
  • age 76 – Thursday, March 25 at noon
  • age 75 – Saturday, March 27 at noon

The call-in schedule for the age 70 to 74 age cohort will be announced in the coming days.

This story is being updated.

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