Vaccine answers for doctors

Answers for doctors

With COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered in BC, many of you will have questions about receiving the vaccine, the process and timing of vaccinating your patients, how doctors will be involved, and more. 

We hope that the following information answers some of those questions as we wait for further information about how the vaccine will roll out across our province.  

Please note that the information on this web page is based on updates from the BCCDC, the Provincial Health Officer, and the provincial government.

Looking for more detailed information? Check out the BCCDC’s Qs and As for health care professionals.

COVID-19 vaccine toolkit

Vaccine roll-out toolkit for doctors' offices (updated January 26, 2021)

This toolkit was created for doctors’ offices and clinics to help answer the many questions from patients about the vaccine. The toolkit includes a script for a voicemail message, website and email content, and a link to a patient Q&A.

Info for doctors getting the vaccine

When will doctors get their vaccines?
  • BC’s doctors, including community doctors, who were not immunized as part of Phase 1 of the roll-out plan, are expected to receive their first doses in February and March. Exact timing depends on delivery of supplies.  
  • Health authorities will soon be sending information to doctors and their office staff to register for their first doses.
  • Watch for this information to be sent to doctors via health authorities, divisions of family practice and/or Doctors of BC.
  • Doctors of BC will in particular ensure information is sent to community specialists, who do not generally receive it directly from health authorities or divisions.
  • Some doctors received the vaccine in Phase 1 that started January, as they are in most contact with high-risk populations. They are: doctors and other providers/staff in long-term care facilities, as well as those working in ICUs, ERs and COVID-19 medical wards. 
  • In some situations, due to stringent storage requirements for the vaccine, doctors and others outside the priority groups received leftover doses that would otherwise have gone to waste. 
  • Watch for more information on timing of the vaccine for doctors and the general population on the BCCDC and health authority websites. 
How will doctors be notified? Will community doctors be left behind?
  • Doctors and their office staff will be notified by health authorities when they are ready to start registration for the vaccine.
  • In many cases, divisions of family practice will be sharing the notices with primary care physicians. Doctors of BC will share the notices with community specialists.
  • Health authorities will provide the registration information as soon as their planning is complete.
  • Watch for more information on timing of the vaccine for doctors and the general population on the BCCDC and health authority websites. 
Why were all doctors not part of the group that received vaccines in December and January?
  • In a perfect world, every doctor in BC would be vaccinated right away. However, the very limited supply of vaccine, compounded by logistical challenges such as storage requirements, transportation, and delivery of supplies, meant that not everyone could get the vaccine right away starting in December.
  • The Provincial Health Officer made the decision that doctors and other health care professionals who are in contact with the most high-risk populations would get vaccines in January and February: those who work in long-term care facilities, ICUs, ERs, and COVID-19 medical wards.
  • Doctors of BC has received many compelling, rationale arguments to prioritize other specific groups, however, in a situation with a limited supply, each group added to the priority list means that another group must be removed.
  • The good news is that vaccinations for all doctors who have not yet been vaccinated have been prioritized, and, depending on supply, are expected to receive their first dose starting in March.
What is the schedule for the different groups to get vaccinated?
 
The timeline for vaccinations may change depending on vaccine supply. Currently the schedule is as follows:
 
Phase 1 | December – February 
  • Residents, staff in long-term care and assisted-living residences.
  • Health care workers providing care for COVID-19 patients in settings such as Intensive Care Units, emergency departments, medical/surgical units and paramedics.
  • Remote and isolated First Nations communities. 
Phase 2 | February – March
  • Hospital staff, community family doctors and medical specialists 
  • Seniors over 80; Indigenous seniors (age 65+), and Indigenous elders.
  • People experiencing homelessness and/or using shelters.
  • Provincial correctional facilities.
  • Adults in group homes or mental health residential care.
  • Long term home support recipients and staff. 
  • Indigenous communities not vaccinated in first priority group.
Phase 3 | April – June
Phase 4 | July – September
  • Ages 59 – 18 (in five year increments)
More details on the vaccine roll-out can be found at the BCCDC website.
Will it be mandatory for doctors in BC to take the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • The Ministry of Health has advised It will not be mandatory for doctors and others working in the health care system to take the COVID-19 vaccine,  however, it encourages them to do so. 
  • Those who decline the COVID-19 vaccination will need to continue to follow strict guidelines around health checks and the use of personal protective equipment.
Will Medical Office Staff receive the vaccine at the same time as doctors?
  • Yes, Medical Office Assistants (MOAs) and other office staff will be able to register for the vaccines in Phase 2, at the same time as doctors.
  • Watch for registration information to be provided by health authorities.  
  • We anticipate office staff will register at the same time as doctors, using the same registration process and information.
  • Health authorities will advise if there is a different process for this.

Info for doctors about the vaccination campaign 

What can I do to help prepare my patients for the vaccine?

British Columbians aged 80 and over and Indigenous seniors aged 65 and over are expected to start getting vaccines in March (Phase 2 of the campaign). While we await details for how they can register and book appointments, you and your team can take steps to prepare.They include:

  • Check your patient panel and identify patients who are 80 years and older and Indigenous seniors aged 65 and over. You do not need to forward this information to the health authority.
  • Keep a list of these patients. As soon as booking details become available, ask your MOAs to proactively reach out to those patients with information on how to book their vaccine appointment, or assist them with booking, if needed.
  • Start familiarizing patients with information about the COVID-19 vaccines. Let them know that you are recommending that they get the vaccine and explain why.  
  • Reassure your patients that the vaccines are safe and effective. A recent national survey found that over 90% of participants said they look to their doctors and other health care professionals as the most credible source of information about the vaccines. Your communication can help reassure your patient about any concerns they may have, and help them feel confident about getting the vaccine. As a start, you can use the following talking points:
    • The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and can protect you from getting sick with COVID-19
    • Millions of people around the world have already had the vaccine with very few side effects
    • You can’t get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
    • It works really well to help your body fight the virus and to prevent you from serious illness.
    • The sooner the majority of the population is vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to normal as a society.
  • Watch for updates to our office toolkit that will include fact sheets and Qs and As that you can share with your patients to address questions about safety, possible adverse reactions, and effectiveness of the vaccines. You can also refer patients to our online patient Qs and As.
  • If you have suggestions about the kinds of materials that would be of most benefit to you, please e-mail us at
When will the immunization of the general public start?

The COVID-19 Immunization Plan released by the provincial government on January 22, 2021 confirms that the general public is expected to start receiving the vaccine in April.

When will seniors over 80 years of age start getting vaccines, and how will they be registered?
  • Vaccination dates for those 80+ awaiting immunization are March 1 to March 15 for those linked to home care support, and March 16 to March 31 for those not linked to home care support.  
  • Exact dates will be confirmed based on delivery of vaccine supplies.
  • The provincial government advises that registration information for seniors over 80 will be announced in late February. The government also confirmed that there will be a central phone number for seniors to call, in addition to an e-mail address for registration.  
When is immunization expected to be complete?

It is expected that everyone will have been vaccinated by the end of September. 

In what order will members of the general public receive their vaccines?
  • The vaccine roll-out is based on age, starting with oldest citizens through to young adults. 
  • In her announcement, the Provincial Health Officer referred to data that indicates that the older the person, the greater the risk for severe illness, hospitalization, or death due to COVID-19. 
  • Older people are also more likely to have chronic health conditions, increasing their risk further.  

Timing is subject to change but the current schedule is as follows:

Phase 2 | February- March

  • Community-based seniors 80 years or older
  • Indigenous seniors at least 65 years old

Phase 3 | April - June

  • People aged 79 – 70 (first dose in April)
  • People aged 69 – 65 (first dose in May)
  • People aged 64 – 60 (first dose in June)
  • People aged 69 – 16 who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable

Phase 4 | July - September

  • Ages 59 – 18 (in five year increments)

More details on the vaccine roll-out can be found at the BCCDC website

Where and how will vaccines be delivered?
  • In urban centers, vaccines will be delivered in large public venues. These venues will be set up in 172 communities around the province.
  • Rural and remote communities may see vaccines delivered from physicians’ offices or other smaller venues.
How will physicians be compensated?
  • Physicians who deliver vaccines in large venues will likely be compensated through sessional contracts.
  • More information will be available from your health authority.
What role will doctors play in the planning for the roll-out?
  • Due to its size and complexity, the planning for this campaign will be done in a different way than was the case for the flu immunization in the fall.
  • The goal is to get as much of the population vaccinated as quickly as possible while we continuing to manage the pandemic.
  • During the next few months, the emphasis in urban areas will be on a centrally coordinated and carefully managed mass immunization approach led through health authorities, with a streamlined provincial record-keeping system and digital platform.    
  • Community doctors will continue to play a critical role in the success of the campaign. Health authorities will reach out to divisions to seek advice and input, especially on a community level. Once supplies increase and transportation of the vaccines becomes less complicated, vaccines will be provided to doctors offices. It is anticipated that this is still a few months away.
  • In smaller, rural and remote communities, doctors may play more of a planning role as vaccines may be distributed through their offices.
What role will doctors play in the delivery of the vaccine?

Doctors are foundational to the success of the vaccine roll-out in a number of ways.

  • Health authorities will soon seek out doctors who can be available on a scheduled basis to help deliver large volumes of vaccines at the vaccine venues. Many others will be involved in vaccine administration, and doctors may also be asked to provide oversight of patients in the immunization clinics.
  • See response to question 1 on this page for information on how practices can prepare for vaccination of the general public.
  • Patients look to their health care providers for reliable information. Divisions and family doctors will play a critical role in supporting patients with information and advice about the vaccine, monitoring for adverse reactions, and helping with understanding of the immunization planning and process.  Research shows that the public views doctors and other health care professionals as the most credible source of information about the vaccine. Doctors can make a real difference in encouraging pages to get vaccinated. The Doctors of BC COVID-19 resource page contains information for doctors to support them in conversations with patients. The pages will be collated and updated regularly.

Watch for more information for doctors on their roles in the campaign to follow as planning unfolds.

When will doctors offices get vaccine supplies?
  • At this time, with the exception of some smaller communities, family practices will not be asked to administer the vaccines in their clinics.  It will be much later in the process before clinics or community pharmacies are broadly used in urban areas. 
  • For this to happen, we need vaccines that do not require the same special considerations for handling, ideally require only one dose, and the provincial reporting system will need to be fully in place. 
I’m a retired doctor, how do I register to help with vaccinations?
  • Health authorities will be identifying the human resources needed to deliver vaccines in each community. 
  • Retired physicians can contact their local health authority, Contacts for Retired Physicians re Vaccine Delivery who will determine if additional doctors and other health care professionals are needed. 
  • If so, the health authority will initiate the re-registration process with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC. 
  • It is suggested that interested retired physicians also fill out the form on the provincial government’s emergency provider registration page. 
  • Please also review information (including FAQs) about the process of re-registration and how notification to assist would work. 

Related: COVID-19 vaccine FAQs for patients


Do you have questions that are not included on this page? Email us at .

We will regularly update and share common questions and answers as new information becomes available.