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With new updates on BC’s Immunization Plan being announced almost weekly, Doctors of BC is working to find ways to keep you informed and to ensure you have access to the latest information being shared from our government and Provincial Health Officer.
This web page has been created as a central hub for that information, and will be updated regularly with the latest news relevant to our members as the COVID-19 Immunization Plan rolls out across the province.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, January 19, 2022
Restrictions for bars, nightclubs, and other indoor gatherings will remain in place until February 16, at which time they will be reviewed.
Gyms and fitness centres across the province can gradually reopen as of January 20, as long as capacity limits are in place and everyone is fully vaccinated.
The vaccine card will also remain place, past the original January 31 deadline, and may be expanded. At this point, two doses of the vaccine are required for the card to be valid, a third dose or booster is not required.
A new PHO Order gives school districts the power to obtain the vaccine status of all school employees, students still aren’t required to provide proof.
Distribution of the antiviral drug Paxlovid is still being worked out, and while it will not change the trajectory of the pandemic, it will be a helpful tool for the healthcare system.
Health Canada has nearly completed its reviews of two other COVID-19 vaccines, one from Medicago (headquartered in Quebec) the other from Novavax (based in Maryland but manufactured in Quebec).
It was stressed that if employees become ill and take sick days, they do not require a note from their physician to get back to work or school or return to daycare or child care.
While many people have experienced mild illness during the Omicron wave, there are groups that can have more severe outcomes, including older people, those who are immunocompromised, and unvaccinated people.
Data shows that approximately one in 10 people who are infected with COVID-19 will experience symptoms that last for twelve weeks or longer. While many people are experiencing mild illness during the omicron wave, those who are vulnerable, immunocompromised, or unvaccinated are at greater risk for more severe outcomes.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, January 11, 2022
The province is expecting a high rate of transmission over the next few weeks due to the omicron variant before we start seeing a decline.
A number of antiviral treatments are under review by federal health officials, including Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir, that will likely be available to provinces later this month.
Real-life cases show the risk of hospitalization and severe illness is lowered by 60 to 70 percent for those with two doses of the vaccine, and protection against hospitalization, illness, and death increases to 80 to 90 percent, after receiving the booster.
Restrictions on gatherings and events remain unchanged – although officials will begin to look at what could change now that businesses will have re-implemented their COVID-19 safety plans.
K-12 are back in school this week with full protocols in place, but it will be bumpy over the next few weeks as we navigate through this wave.
The accelerated booster campaign is full on: more than 2M invites to eligible people have gone out in total, with 500,000 sent out last week. Capacity continues to grow – 80,000 appointments opened up on Monday for both pharmacies and health authority clinics.
Government is sticking to the 6-month interval between the 2nd dose and booster – it’s a balance of near-term risk vs. long-term risk, unlike what some other provinces are doing.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, January 4, 2022
80% of all new cases are now from Omicron.
Because the Omicron variant results in a much shorter incubation period, transmits faster, and its symptoms are similar to other illnesses (cold, flu, etc) our response needs to be different. Case and contact tracing are no longer reactionary measures that will help us contain this. Everyone needs to be more proactive with their own preventative measures.
The booster campaign has been accelerated, invitations are now going out to those who have reached 6 months or 182 days since their 2nd dose.
Boosters are being provided in more than 700 locations across the province in pharmacies and health authority clinics. Both are booking via the Get Vaccinated booking system only.
All business, including doctors’ offices, must ensure their COVID safety plans are firmly in place, given the high number of people (and your staff) contracting the Omicron variant and taking sick time. The estimate is that businesses could see up to 30% of their employees off sick with the variant.
Fitness to work protocols are being considered to allow health care workers in health authority facilities who have mild or asymptomatic COVID to return to work, although they would be restricted to working with COVID patients – this protocol is considered a last resort.
In long-term care and assisted living facilities, visitation was again restricted to essential visitors only. Starting this week, as Rapid Testing kits are distributed throughout these facilities and as staffing allows, visitation can increase to one designated social visitor.
39% of children 5-11 have received their first dose. The time interval between 1st and 2nd doses for children and youth will remain at 8 weeks.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, December 14, 2021
There is consensus that Omicron spreads more quickly than the Delta variant, meaning there will be more Omicron cases in the coming days.
According to BCCDC modelling projections, BC’s worst-case scenario involving Omicron would be 2,000 new cases per day by December 29. The best-case scenario would be around 1,000 new cases per day by mid-January.
The antibody response is less with Omicron, but there is not yet enough information regarding cell-mediated immunity.
Public health continues to monitor variants with whole genome testing and wastewater analysis from five water treatment plants in the province.
Currently, the reproductive number is hovering near one in most regions.
The booster dose roll-out is seeing positive results when looking at those in the older age categories who have now received three doses.
By early January, 1,000 pharmacies across BC will be enrolled in the booster campaign, including the 500 already enrolled.
BC will have a supply of Roche at-home rapid tests for use come mid-January, with plans forthcoming.
It is likely that the BC vaccine card for restaurants, indoor sporting events, gyms, etc. will extend beyond the current deadline of January 31, 2022.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, December 7, 2021
There are now five confirmed cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in the province, all of which have been mild and resulted in zero hospitalizations.
Of the five confirmed cases, three people were fully vaccinated with three different vaccination combinations and two were unvaccinated people -- all of the cases were related to international travel.
The province is continuing to undertake whole genome sequencing and waste water analysis to monitor spread of all variants, including Delta and Omicron
BC has administered more than 500,000 booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Later this week, everyone aged 65 and above who had their second shot at least 6 months earlier, will be offered invitations to book their booster vaccine.
For those under 65, booster doses will arrive in January, February, and March of next year, and vaccination will be based on age as with the initial vaccination program. People who have registered with the vaccine program may be directed to a pharmacy, rather than a community clinic, for their booster.
BC will obtain more AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming weeks for people awaiting their second dose. Approximately 2,000 people are waiting for a Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
The new Access to Services Act was relied on in Prince George yesterday to block the anti-vaccine protests that took place outside a vaccine clinic. Access to Services creates access zones that extend 20 metres from the facility where COVID-19 testing or vaccinations are being provided to the public.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, November 30, 2021
The first case of the new Omicron variant has been detected in BC. A traveler had visited Nigeria and returned to the Fraser Health area.
The cases of all travelers who tested positive for COVID-19 are subject to whole genome sequencing to monitor variants, including Omicron.
The province has been working with the Public Health Agency of Canada to identify a further 204 people who recently travelled to affected countries. They have been sent for PCR tests and are now in isolation.
The additional COVID-19 restrictions in the Interior have been lifted, restrictions remain in Fraser Health East, and Northern Health orders will expire on January 31, 2022, but have been revised to restrict alcohol sales, cancel in-person worship services, and limit indoor gatherings to up to 10 fully vaccinated people.
BC has provided more than 419,000 booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine so far. There will be no change to the booster program in light of the new variant.
The province is encouraging retired physicians, nurses, and other immunizers who are not working to contact local health authorities in aid of local vaccination efforts.
114,106 kids 5-11 years old have been registered for the COVID-19 vaccine, and 41,697 have booked appointments.
BC has provided more than one million flu shots across the province so far.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Families who have registered their children aged 5-11 on the Get Vaccinated portal will start receiving their invitations for vaccination on Monday, November 29.
There will be three types of clinics: smaller family clinics, all-age clinics, and pharmacies for those aged 12 and older. Vaccinations of the 5-11 year-olds will happen in the clinics, although school sites may be used, but not during school hours.
Scheduled community-wide clinics will operate for children living in remote areas or small communities, which may also offer adult boosters at the same time.
If a child is 4 years old, they must wait until at least their 5th birthday to be eligible. If an 11-year-old turns 12 between doses 1 and 2, they will get an adult dose for their second shot.
Families can have all their young children vaccinated at the same time, as long as they are all registered at the same clinic on the same day. There will be private spaces and quiet areas to accommodate children who are concerned about needles, and children with special needs.
Approximately 350,000 BC children are eligible to be vaccinated, and more than 90,000 have registered.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has issued guidance on the Pfizer paediatric vaccine.
British Columbia has reported zero hospitalizations among children 12-17 vaccinated against COVID-19.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, November 17, 2021
Flooding in the province has required the movement of 150 patients to from hospitals in affected areas, with a further 48 patients being moved out in the coming days.
Officials announced the first confirmed cases of the AY42 Delta sublineage, which has been seen in other parts of Western Canada. It is slightly more transmissible, but vaccines are still effective against it.
90.7% of people over the age of 12 have received both doses of vaccine, with first doses received at 86.8%.
There are 2,885 unvaccinated healthcare workers affected by the current PHO Order. A total of 98% of eligible healthcare workers have received both doses, and 97% have received one dose.
Officials anticipate a decision from Health Canada on the Pfizer vaccine for children either this week or next. The shot will be made available before the upcoming holiday season, if current timelines are maintained.
As we head into winter, the province is encouraging both COVID-19 and flu vaccines, masking, washing hands, and minimizing time spent indoors with large groups.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has published new guidelines on masks.
There are approximately 27 influenza cases in the province at present.
Six operating rooms have been reduced in Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and scheduled surgeries have been postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks at the hospital.
Northern Health is slowly increasing surgeries in its hospitals. To date, 123 critical patients have been transferred from the north to other areas of BC. The majority are unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.
Johnson and Johnson has arrived in the province, and will be disseminated in the coming days. It is reserved first for healthcare workers affected by the vaccine mandate, but there may be surplus supply for members of the public. Those interested may call 1-833-838-2323 for more details.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Health officials are encouraging British Columbians to get their flu shot. There have been some influenza cases in the province.
The COVID-19 reproductive rate remains just below one, which reflects BC’s high immunization rate and reduction in viral spread.
Officials are asking British Columbians to keep indoor gatherings small and limited to fully immunized people during the holidays, and to consider outdoor gatherings for larger family events—this is especially important to protect high-risk loved ones.
Being respectful of the rules in different communities, and ensuring you mask up in indoor public spaces is crucial to get through respiratory season.
Federal government has a limited supply of Johnson and Johnson vaccine; in BC it will be here early next week. Officials will offer it first to healthcare workers affected by the PHO Order, who want to continue working safely in their field. There will be details next week, including information on a central call number.
The number of healthcare workers vaccinated against COVID-19 has increased in the last week. Since last week’s update, a further 1,548 healthcare workers have been vaccinated. There are still 3,071 healthcare workers affected by the mandate who are on leave.
Regarding the workers on paid leave, 28 are in emergency medicine, 105 in general medicine, 246 care aides and community assistants, 19 from internal medicine, 906 nurses, 86 paramedics and 10 resident doctors.
In Northern Health, 109 people have been airlifted out of hospitals to other parts of the province to make space for more patients in those areas. Of those, 97 people have tested positive for COVID-19.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, November 4, 2021
The long-term data modelling projects a continued rise in cases among those unvaccinated, while cases among vaccinated British Columbians remains stable.
An unvaccinated person is 46 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than a fully vaccinated person of the same age, and 50 times more likely to be hospitalized.
The reproductive rate has dipped below 1 for the first time since the summer, but it is just a slight dip, and is fragile as we enter respiratory season.
Children aged 5-11 are contracting COVID-19 at higher rates than other pediatric age categories.
This week, 550 children had a positive diagnosis in this age range, with one child hospitalized and another receiving critical care. These cases rose shortly after school resumed. A total of 56 children in this age bracket have been hospitalized with COVID-19 to date.
Most COVID-19 deaths are among people 80 years and older. Nearly half of those aged 80+ and vaccinated who were hospitalized in October with the virus died from COVID-19, stemming from a more muted immune response. Boosters in long-term care and assisted living facilities are now almost complete.
Between October 24-30 hospitals postponed 238 surgeries.
More detail on the epidemiological modeling presentation can be found on the BCCDC website: New Today.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, November 1, 2021
All visitors in acute care must be fully vaccinated. While some provisions could be made in certain cases, additional precautions will be required.
Coaches and youth sport volunteers are now required to be vaccinated.
People who received two doses of AstraZeneca will receive their mRNA booster at six months, which may be sooner than other healthy adults in the community.
Even though nearly 96% of health care workers are fully vaccinated, more than 3,300 are now on unpaid leave because they did not get immunized by the October 26 deadline.
Any public service employee who has not received at least one COVID-19 vaccine by November 22 will be placed on unpaid leave for three months.
The mask mandate will remain in place until COVID-19 transmission goes down substantially. Masks are required in indoor public spaces for those 5 years and up across BC.
Operating times have been reduced at various hospitals across the province due to increased pressure on critical care facilities and employees not meeting vaccination requirements.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Between now and the end of 2021, boosters will be provided to those who are immunocompromised, people who live in remote Indigenous communities, and long term care residents.
By the end of 2021, seniors aged 70 and over, all Indigenous people over the age of 12, long-term home support clients, seniors in independent living, and healthcare workers who had a shorter interval between doses will get the opportunity for a booster.
Beginning in January 2022, doses will expand to all clinically extremely vulnerable people and all healthcare workers, after which the general population will become eligible for a booster
Healthy British Columbians at lower risk to get COVID-19 should expect to wait 8 months after their second dose to get third shot of either Pfizer or Moderna.
There will be no drop-in clinics for the boosters, but approximately 85% of pharmacies will be engaged along with public-health community clinics around the province.
All boosters will be booked through provincial Get Vaccinated registration system, after notification from government, as before.
Community partners and immunizers who assisted in the first immunization rollout will be asked to participate in providing the boosters.
Two doses in BC is still fully immunized. The vaccination third dose program will not impact the status for the BC vaccine card.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Capacity limits for indoor events will be removed beginning October 25, but only in places where the BC vaccine card is in effect:
Indoor sporting events
Indoor concerts, theatre, movie theatres, and symphony events
Indoor organized events such as weddings, funeral receptions outside of a funeral home, and organized parties
In restaurants and pubs, the order to remain seated at a table will also be lifted
Mask requirements will remain in effect for all indoor gatherings, including for patrons moving around within restaurants and pubs
Restrictions will NOT be lifted in areas where specific orders are in place, such as Northern Health, Interior Health, and the eastern Fraser Valley.
The BCCDC has published a Situation Report outlining COVID-19 in K-12 schools, which includes details on cases, vaccinations, and regional data analysis. According to the data, the largest source of COVID-19 infections for children originates in the community, outside of the classroom.
In the past week, four children in the 0 - 4 age range, one child in the 5 - 11 age range, and one young person in the 12 - 17 age range were admitted to hospital.
Masks in school settings and increased immunizations in 12 - 17 year-olds and school staff have helped keep classroom transmission low.
There will be no vaccine mandate for children 11 years of age and under when they are able to be vaccinated.
There remains no scientific consensus available on immunity conferred on people who have recovered from COVID-19.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, October 14, 2021
The Provincial Health Officer has announced new restrictions in the Northern Health Authority region that came into effect at midnight, Oct 14.
All organized events both indoor and outdoor in Northern Health region will need a safety plan, and people must be masked and provide proof of vaccination. Indoor organized events outside the home are restricted to a maximum of 50 people, with a maximum of 100 for outdoor organized events.
Religious services in groups will be virtual only.
Restaurants may remain open as long as diners have proof of vaccination. Licensed establishments and those with table service must not serve alcohol between 10pm-9am. Pubs and establishments that do not have food service will be closed.
The communities of Kitimat, Terrace, Haida Gwaii, Stikine, Nisg̱a’a, Telegraph, Snow Country, and Prince Rupert are exempt from the new orders due to high levels of immunization.
BC continues to review evidence for booster doses in other groups, and will provide updates in the coming days, but vaccine effectiveness in young, healthy people is still holding.
Dr Henry says proof of vaccination for cross-border travel will be critical, particularly as the land border opens in November.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, October 12, 2021
The province says 88.8% of eligible BC residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 82.6% are fully vaccinated.
Over a four-day period, BC is reporting 2,090 new cases of COVID-19. There are now 5,183 active cases, with 357 in hospital and 153 of those in intensive care. There were 28 new deaths in this time period.
From Oct. 4-10, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 68.1% of cases and from Sept. 27-Oct. 10, they accounted for 73.7% of hospitalizations.
The situation in Northern Health remains serious, with 55 patients in intensive care now transferred to other health regions in BC. Of these, 43 have COVID-19, with 42 of those not fully vaccinated. Over the long weekend, 14 patients were transferred out of the region. PHO and Minister urged people in the north to get vaccinated.
The existing Provincial Health Order regarding mandatory immunization in long-term care and assisted living came into effect Oct 12. There are now 1,955 employees who have not started their vaccination process, about 5% of the workforce.
Children aged five and older are now included in the PHO order mandating masks in indoor public spaces in BC. This change was made to align with new school masking rules.
Pfizer has requested Health Canada approve its vaccine for kids aged five to 11, and Dr Henry said Tuesday she hopes the vaccine will be available for kids "as early as early November."
Dr Henry said beyond residents of long-term care and assisted living and the clinically extremely vulnerable, the province is also looking at other compromised groups that may need a booster shot.
There will be an announcement on changing capacity limits for organized events by the end of this week.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Moderately to severely immunocompromised patients
British Columbia will offer a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to an additional 100,000 people considered moderately to severely immunocompromised, including those who:
Have been under active treatment for solid blood tumours since March 2020, and are receiving or have received systemic therapies, such as chemotherapy, and molecular or hormonal therapy
Have certain combined immune deficiencies
Live with AIDS-defining illness
Have illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or multiple sclerosis
Most of the eligible will be contacted by the Get Vaccinated system. Individuals who believe they qualify for a third dose but have not been contacted by next week should reach out to their family doctor. New Attestation forms and a Q&A are available on our website.
Long term care
Starting October 12, visitors to long-term care homes in BC will need to be fully immunized, which will extend to acute care visitors on October 26. There will be some exceptions, such as palliative and end-of-life care.
Workers who receive their first dose before October 12 can continue to work, but will need to get their second dose within 35 days (The previous first dose cut-off date was Sept. 13 but was extended to Oct. 12).
Volunteers in these settings will also need to be fully vaccinated.
If workers decide to get vaccinated after the deadline, they will need to wait until seven days after their first dose to return to work with additional precautions, and get the second dose 28-35 days after the first.
New workers hired in these settings after October 25 must be fully vaccinated, with only medical exceptions accepted.
Over the last month there were 1,384 surgical postponements. And in the last week surgical postponements took place in the Interior (56), Northern (1), Island (157).
Non-urgent surgeries will start to resume in Royal Inland Hospital, Kelowna General Hospital, Vernon Jubilee Hospital, and Penticton Regional Hospital.
A decision on boosters for everyone will be made based on risk, efficacy, among other things. Provincial health officers have been discussing this and will have details soon.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Although COVID-19 case numbers are rising among children, hospitalizations rates are not trending the same way. 815 children aged 11 and under tested positive for the virus last week, but only three were hospitalized for the illness. The rise in cases among children in parts of BC mirrors the lower vaccination rates in some communities.
Health authorities area now posting school exposure alerts, listing the name of the school and potential exposure dates, on the respective websites. Families who need to take immediate action will be notified directly.
Starting next week, residents of long term care and assisted living facilities will start receiving COVID-19 booster shots. The province is already providing boosters to immune-compromised individuals. Boosters are not being offered to British Columbians who received a mix of vaccines, at this time.
There have been difficulties obtaining test appointments in the Northern Health region, and ongoing challenges with unhoused communities dealing with COVID-19 around the province.
New restrictions are in place for Fraser Valley East (Abbotsford, Hope, Chilliwack, Mission, and Agassiz/Harrison) in light of increased hospitalizations and rising case counts. There is now a limit on indoor private social gatherings to five additional people per household and outdoor gatherings are limited to ten people, unless everybody is fully immunized. In indoor workplaces, masks are mandatory, unless someone is working behind a barrier or alone in a room.
Fraser Valley East residents must also be fully vaccinated before they can access events, services, and businesses such as concerts, indoor sports events, restaurants/pubs, and gym classes, etc. (unlike the rest of the province which has until October 24 to be fully vaccinated).
BC Currently has 1,164 contact tracers with another 147 planned to come on board in the near future.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, September 21, 2021
The province is encouraging people who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, to get vaccinated against COVID-19, given 40 pregnant COVID-19 patients have received intensive care over the past number of months.
There is no increased risk of complications for immunized pregnant women or their babies, and international data demonstrates no difference in rates of miscarriage or other adverse effects. The Delta variant, however, can cause higher rates of stillbirth and pre-term birth for those remaining unvaccinated.
BC is preparing to offer COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 6 to 11, although there is no specific date yet as Pfizer is awaiting approval for this age group from Health Canada.
Northern Health is now averaging 41 new cases per 100,000 population, in contrast with Vancouver Coastal Health which is reporting 7 new cases per 100,000 population, resulting in significant pressure in northern hospitals. 12 northern patients have been transferred out of the north to areas with greater capacity because the region can’t handle such high case numbers.
Vaccination rates in Peace River South, Peace River North, and Fort Nelson hover around 50%, lagging behind other areas of the province.
The province is scaling up the number of contact tracing staff in all health authority teams, as well as the BCCDC.
COVID-19 school notifications will return, with details arriving by the end of this week.
Recruitment and retention challenges have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, September 13, 2021
For groups within the immuno-compromised CEV population:
Group 1 – will begin receiving an invitation this week to visit a vaccination clinic to get their 3rd dose. For approximately 15,000 severely immune compromised people who have had solid organ transplants, are being actively treated for hematologic cancers and lymphoma, who have taken anti-CD20 medications or B-cell depleting agents, have severe primary immune-deficiencies, and bone marrow or stem cell transplants.
Group 2 – for about 120,000 moderately immune-compromised people, the BC immunization committee will be reviewing their vaccination data along with clinical CEV experts. Once a better understanding of risks is clear an update in September/October on a possible 3rd dose will be provided.
Group 3 – for about 150,000 people with a strong immune response, but who have conditions that may make them more susceptible to severe illness if they acquire Covid 19, monitoring of their vaccine effectiveness will take place over the next few months to determine if a 3rd dose is required.
Mandatory vaccinations for health care workers
By October 26th, all health care workers, including physicians, who work in an acute care or community Health Authority facility must be double vaccinated in order to continue working – it will be a condition of employment.
This mandate only applies to physicians with privileges in health authority facilities – it does not apply to physicians providing care in a private community practice.
In the rare occasions where a medical condition or religious exemption may prevent full vaccination, a review process through the PHO’s office will take place.
PHO expressed sadness that some people are taking out their frustration over the Vaccine Card on health care workers, who day in and day out provide the health care we all need in sometimes extremely stressful situations – no matter patient vaccination status. Healthcare workers deserve better.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Info on the BC Vaccine Card:
The BC government Vaccine Card website has details on how to obtain the card, which can be used as a QR code or in paper format. For those who do not have a printer or mobile phone, they can call the hotline at 1-833-838-2323 for a paper card to be sent to them. Service BC Centres will also be able to print out vaccine cards for people without the means to do it themselves.
From September 13 to October 24, the requirement will be proof of at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Beyond October 24, the requirement will be proof of both COVID shots. This will be in force until January 31,2022, subject to extension.
To allow enough time for people to sign up for the Vaccine Card, there will be some leeway, so between September 13-26 people can use the card they received when they got vaccinated, as proof of immunization.
Photo ID will be needed to verify identity.
How the Vaccine Card will be enforced:
Businesses and venues can verify visually or with the Verifier App, which scans Vaccine Cards without storing or reading other health data, in combination with ID. The app and an information phone line for businesses will be available on September 13.
Individuals who don't comply could get a $230-$575 fine; and business owners, operators, event organizers could get a violation ticket as high as $2,300. Fines can be issued by community safety officers, conservations officers, police officers etc.
Proof of vaccination will be required for people visiting from out of province. They will need a provincially or territorially recognized official vaccine record, as well as valid government ID from the same province or territory.
Proof of vaccine will NOT be needed at coffee shops, fast food restaurants, cafeterias, or food courts for take out or dine in. Nor will it be needed to vote in-person in the September 20 federal election or at advance polling places.
85% of people over 12 have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with 78% of those over 12 with two doses.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, August 12, 2021
Due to an increase in outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living facilities, a new Provincial Health Office order has been issued:
Employers will be required to collect information from all staff in these facilities and provide it to the PHO to confirm their vaccination status.
All staff will be required to be vaccinated by October 12 – until then all unvaccinated staff are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and be tested regularly for COVID-19.
Volunteers and personal service providers entering long-term care settings must also be fully vaccinated.
Ongoing discussions are in progress around protocols for health care workers in community and acute care settings.
Pfizer and Moderna have completed dosing studies and have moved on to Stage 3 in their trials to create vaccines for children aged 6 months to 6 years, and 6 years to 12 years:
This stage studies non-inferiority and safety of the vaccine compared to the adult vaccine, and will show if the children’s vaccine results in the same immune response as the adult vaccine.
Pfizer is likely to complete this stage in September or October, resulting in a vaccine possibly becoming available for those aged 6 to 12 by the end of the calendar year, with a possible fridge-stable formulation.
A Moderna vaccine for this age group is expected in early 2022.
Further details will be announced next week for plans in the post-secondary sector.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, August 5, 2021
There were 33,277 shots delivered across the province on Wednesday, including more than 16,500 Walk-in Wednesday drop-ins. Of the walk-ins, 6,130 were first doses, and when combined with 1st doses by appointment, this made for one of the most significant days for 1st doses.
81.7% of British Columbians over the age of 12 have now been vaccinated, with 68.4% having received both doses.
The recent surge in new cases is mostly among younger people aged 20-40. 95% of all infections are among those who have not been immunized or not yet had their 2nd dose.
It’s not unexpected to see increased numbers of new cases when restrictions started to lift. Contact tracing continues and additional measures take place where necessary.
The immunization rate among BC’s doctors is around 97%, reflecting the importance doctors put on being vaccinated.
Doctors have also been leading the charge in providing immunization advice to their patients and others – which has led to a significant increase in vaccination rates in many populations around the province where rates had been low. Richmond Centre is a prime example.
It will be increasingly necessary in many work forces, particularly in health care, to demonstrate vaccination status, with consequences for those not vaccinated.
Government is not looking at vaccine passports at this time.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Government is increasing its effort to vaccinate as many people as possible over the next two weeks with a public campaign: Vax for BC. The idea is to bring the clinics closer to unvaccinated people.
On Wednesday, August 4 there will be 20,000 shots available at vaccination stations across the province where prior booking is not required.
The province may impose restrictions on unvaccinated people, in order to protect those most vulnerable.
The eight week interval between vaccine doses is being reduced to seven weeks.
Northern and Interior Health continue to lag behind other regions in the number of people vaccinated.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, June 29
The provincial state of emergency which had been in place since March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be lifted on July 1 in British Columbia.
More than 78% of adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while almost 32% of adults have been fully immunized. 77% of those over 12 have now received their first shot, while 29.5% are fully immunized.
The seven-day rolling case average is now at 58—the lowest since August 2020. 876 current active cases makes this also the lowest number since August.
BC will be entering into Step 3 of its restart plan on July 1, as scheduled. At this point, recreational travel within Canada will be allowed again, as will indoor and outdoor personal gatherings with no attendee limits. Children will be permitted to have sleepovers with their friends again.
Masks are still recommended, but no longer mandatory. It is important to continue to wear masks in indoor public settings, particularly around people we do not know, or if we are not fully immunized yet.
Workplaces are shifting from COVID-19 safety plans to communicable disease plans.
Step 3 also means outdoor public gatherings of 5,000 or 50% capacity are now permitted.
Read more about Step 3 on the BC government website.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, June 22
The provincial state of emergency is extended for two weeks, through to the end of day on July 6, 2021. It could be lifted earlier if BC continues to see solid progress on new cases, hospitalizations, and immunization rates.
Like other provinces, BC will face a shortfall of Pfizer shipments in early July, to be offset by an expected increase in Moderna shipments -- 1,153,600 doses coming by end of June
Everyone waiting for their second shot of an mRNA vaccine can be assured that Pfizer and Moderna can be used interchangeably.
More than 1,000,000 people in BC have now been fully vaccinated. 76.2% of those age 12 and up have received a first dose.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases is now 90, the lowest since August 31, 2020.
There has been an 80 per cent drop in new cases among those who have been fully immunized.
The PHO is visiting the Northern Health and Interior Health regions to speak to officials about improving vaccine access. Health officials are not seeing widespread anti-vaccine sentiment in low uptake areas, rather people have questions/concerns or encounter difficulties accessing the vaccines.
We may reach the 75% fully immunized target by the end of July, but could possibly be early August. Even after we hit the 80% fully immunized target, the province will continue with immunizations.
Both Dr Henry and Minister Dix extend their thanks to the health care teams across the province for their tireless work.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, June 21
77.3% of all adults in BC and 75.8% of those 12 and older have now received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
21.8% of BC's adult population are now fully vaccinated.
In total, 4,436,432 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the province. 935,401 of these are second doses.
The seven-day rolling average is 97 new cases per day, the lowest since September 2, 2020.
108 individuals are currently hospitalized, 48 of whom are in intensive care.
The PHO briefings will now be held just once per week.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, June 17
There will be challenges with Pfizer delivery in July, resulting in reduced supply. At the same time, a substantial shipment of Moderna is expected to arrive in the coming weeks. While it may not be commonplace, mixing and matching of the mRNA vaccines may occur if supply challenges arise.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending people who got the AstraZeneca vaccine for their first shot should get an mRNA vaccine for the second shot. That said, NACI also said those who have already received two doses of AstraZeneca can “rest assured” that they are well protected.
The PHO said two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine provides safe and adequate protection against COVID-19 for people, but added if the immune response wanes after two doses of AstraZeneca, they may get a third dose of one of the other two vaccines available.
The World Health Organization will be making a decision on AstraZeneca vaccine standards for global travel, including to the US.
WorkSafeBC will be sharing information on how to adapt COVID-19 safety plans to create more general communicable disease protection plans in the next couple of weeks, as we move closer to Step 3 in July.
Government has said students, families, teachers, and staff in the province should plan for a “near normal” return to school in September. Safety checks there will be in place, with $43.6 million being provided to support these measures.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, June 14
Step 2 of BC’s Restart Plan begins June 15. A high uptake of vaccinations, and dropping case counts and hospitalizations, are behind this decision.
Masking and physical distancing remain mandatory under Step 2, as is getting tested if you feel unwell.
WorksafeBC inspections continue. Workplaces will soon be able to transition to a more generic communicable disease safety plan, rather than a specific COVID-19 safety plan.
Even though travel restrictions within the province are lifted, those from outside the province are being asked not to travel to BC unless it's essential.
On Thursday Premier Horgan is meeting with other Premiers and the Prime Minister to discuss reopening Canadian borders.
A large shipment of Pfizer is expected over the next few days, and in the last week of June BC will receive 962,000 doses of Moderna.
The average seven-day case number is now at 132, the lowest since October 11th 2020.
The earliest date of commencement for Step 3 of BC’s Restart Plan is July 1st.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, June 10
The seven-day case average is now at 161, and the reproductive rate is between .57 and .63.
Modeling continues to show that age is the largest risk factor when it comes to severe COVID-19.
New data shows that variants of concern make up the majority of cases in BC at present – predominantly the Alpha and Gamma strains.
The Moderna vaccine is currently being reviewed by Health Canada for those aged 12 and up.
And, vaccines may be available for those under 12 by the end of the year, studies are currently underway.
Government is looking into making the vaccine mandatory for long term care staff.
Work is being done in the northeast, parts of the central Okanagan, and Richmond, and among younger cohorts, to increase uptake and access of the vaccines.
All nine Metro Vancouver hospitals are back to full surgical operations, following the postponement of elective surgeries earlier this year.
Officials are examining what changes will be made when we exit the emergency phase and enter into a new phase of living with COVID-19.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, June 7
Health officials are beginning their plan to move away from managing COVID-19 as an emergency, as cases decline and vaccination rates rise, and manage it more like any other communicable disease that we rarely hear about.
The province is on track with its reopening plan, with step two to begin on June 15th – provincial travel restrictions will be lifted, outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people and indoor seated organized gatherings of up to 50 people are both permitted.
Invitations to receive a second dose of AstraZeneca, for those who received a first dose, were sent out Monday. People can choose to take the second dose of AstraZeneca from their pharmacist, or obtain a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna by making at appointment on the Get Immunized website and visiting the mass vaccination clinics.
When looking at the more infectious delta variant, our Canadian vaccines have proven to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization or death. Ensuring everyone has their second dose is an important part in preventing serious illness. The delta variant is relatively uncommon in British Columbia.
The 7-day case average is now at 177 new cases, the lowest since October 20. There are 224 people in hospital, down from 511 at the height of the pandemic.
74% of adults have received one dose of vaccine, while 72% of all eligible British Columbians aged 12 and up have received one dose.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, June 3
Advice from NACI, research by BC immunization committees, and data from around the world show it is perfectly safe and effective to interchange vaccines – interchanging mRNA vaccines, or interchanging mRNA with viral vector vaccines. Although, as with all vaccines, it is preferable to have the same vaccine for both doses.
For those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca, there will be a choice in what comes next:
a second dose of AstraZeneca at least 8 weeks after your first dose, available through your pharmacy. Pharmacies will soon contact those who received a first AstraZeneca dose in March/April to schedule a vaccine dose appointment, or
a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna, at least 8 weeks after your first AstraZeneca dose, through the mass immunization clinics in the province. This can be done by booking online through the Immunization BC platform. Most British Columbians are registered, regardless of which vaccine you initially received, but if not, you will need to register before you can book an appointment
Studies show that the risk of blood clots from the second AstraZeneca vaccine are greatly reduced.
Full surgical slates returning to hospitals:
Burnaby, Royal Columbian, and St Paul’s Hospitals are back to full surgical operations after temporarily closing to scheduled surgeries during the third wave.
Abbotsford, Surrey Memorial, Lions Gate, UBC, and Vancouver General Hospitals will be back to full surgical operations by June 7.
But, full surgical operations at Richmond Hospital have been delayed due to the covid outbreak in a unit last week. Until June 24, the hospital will focus on surgeries that do not require overnight stays.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, May 31
69.7% of British Columbian adults have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The number of new daily cases, active cases, and hospitalizations continues to fall. The rolling seven-day average of new cases is 277, the lowest since October 31st.
The province has seen a third case of vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT)--a man in his 30s in the Island Health region is receiving treatment in hospital.
Approximately 12 children received Moderna in error, but public health does not believe it will cause clinical harm, and it is likely that Moderna will be approved for under 18's in the coming weeks. There are more processes now in place to prevent this mix-up happening again.
The province will have guidance on second doses for those who received AstraZeneca this Thursday.
Allowing unmasked visits in long term care will be a cautious process, as some of the new variants can still transmit rapidly, even with a heavily immunized population.
The BCCDC will apply the whole genome sequencing process to every positive case as numbers continue to go down, which will assist the province in detecting unusual variants as movement and travel restrictions begin to lift.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, May 27
The current seven-day rolling average of new cases stands at 330.
More than 3,000,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in BC – 66% of all adults and 62% of those aged 12 and above have received at least one dose.
Thanks to a steady supply of vaccine, the interval between dose one and two will now start at around 8 weeks. People over 70, and clinically extremely vulnerable people, who have already received a single dose should soon receive an invitation for their second dose.
The current inventory of Moderna will be reserved for second doses.
NACI has found that it is safe for two different messenger RNA vaccines to be used for dose one and two, but it is still preferred that individuals receive the same vaccine for both. Mixing of vaccines may occur in some cases.
All long term care and assisted living centres are expected to be fully vaccinated in the next few days. Rural Indigenous communities will be fully vaccinated in the coming weeks.
It is expected that everyone eligible will have received both doses by the end of the summer, depending on supply and the trajectory of the virus.
97% of non-urgent surgeries cancelled since the start of the pandemic have now been completed. The recent non-urgent surgeries cancelled during the peak of the third wave are set to resume June 7 in all hospitals (except for Burnaby Hospital which has already resumed surgeries).
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, May 24
They can get vaccinated with their parent or guardian at their appointment, or
They can make their own appointment, without the need for written consent from a parent or guardian
Clinic staff can answer specific queries that people in this age bracket may have, and notify them of vaccine implications
While Pfizer is the only vaccine currently approved for people in this age bracket, it is hoped that Moderna will be approved in the coming days
The province is still working out the details to move up second doses. Older people and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be prioritized.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, May 17
The seven-day case average is at 508 per day, the lowest since February 22.
However, 350 people are in hospital, with 132 in critical care/ICU. And 128 surge beds are currently in use, 14 are being used for critical care.
More than 55% of eligible adults have received their first dose:
86% of those over 70
82% of those over 60
70% of those over 40
Second doses will likely be moved up for everybody as supplies grow, with large shipments of Pfizer and Moderna expected to arrive in BC in the coming days.
Remaining AZ stock in BC (approximately 20k doses) is viable until the end of June, and is is reserved for second doses.
Public health will ensure that CEV and older individuals can get their second AZ shot as soon as dose two is available.
More details from studies on mixing and matching vaccines will be released in June.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, May 11
The rolling 7-day average for new cases is 616.6, the lowest since March 23.
2,159,103 doses of all three vaccines have been distributed - 106,058 are second doses.
The BCCDC is working on an interactive case mapping app, which will be available soon.
118 surge beds are currently in use, and while hospitalizations are dropping, healthcare workers are feeling the strain.
Over a three week period BC is receiving:
826,000 doses of Pfizer
255,600 doses of Moderna
J&J’s shipment is in approvals with Health Canada.
BC is looking at Saskatchewan’s and the UK’s reopening plan, but BC’s plan will not be based solely on immunizations.
Any re-opening plan will be done provincewide, not on a regional basis.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, May 6
A woman in her 40s is the first person in BC to acquire vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), she is in a stable condition in a Vancouver Coastal Health hospital.
421 surgeries in BC were postponed in the last reporting week, with 819 surgeries postponed in total.
The number of active cases in BC is at its lowest since the end of March, at 6,082.
BC administered a record 52,000 doses of vaccine on May 5 - the two millionth dose will be administered today
Pfizer is set to remain the main arm of BC’s vaccine roll-out.
The province is waiting for data from the UK on mixing and matching vaccines – hopefully by end of the month.
Provincial legislation regarding sick pay is expected next week.
The federal government is examining how vaccine passports could work.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, May 3
474 people are in hospital - 176 of these people are in ICU or critical care. Some ICU surge beds are in use in Metro Vancouver.
Johnson & Johnson supply should arrive later this week or early next week, and the province will initially target groups such as farm workers and tree planters.
The PHO is looking at shortening the first and second dosage interval time as supplies increase. The priority still remains to give as many people their first dose as quickly as possible.
More than 1m doses of vaccine are due to arrive in BC in May - everyone eligible being offered their first dose by the end of June is looking highly likely, dependent on supply.
The federal government is looking to ensure continued AZ supply, and the PHO is examining vaccine mix and match studies underway around the world.
Pfizer study data regarding vaccinating 12-to-16 year-olds is being examined, and Moderna is currently doing clinical trials with children as young as 6 months.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, April 29
There are 503 people in hospital, with 178 people in ICU.
From April 19 to 25, 398 surgeries were postponed in Fraser Health, Coastal Health, and Island Health.
Overall hospital numbers are stable, but the impact of increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients in critical care is felt.
Of the more than 200,000 CEV patients, 70% have now received their 1st shots.
BC expects to receive more than 1M doses of Pfizer and Moderna in May, allowing the age-based vaccine program to accelerate.
15% of this supply is earmarked for priority workers such as first responders and those who work with children/in education.
Data shows we will likely reach just under 50% of eligible adults with a single dose by the end of next week – and everyone who wants a vaccine will have at least their first immunization by mid-June.
Johnson & Johnson will arrive in the province next week, and plans will soon be announced for its use.
Pop-up clinics in hotspots may come back, but this is not a certainty. Social media has caused confusion regarding the pop-up clinics.
Everyone who got their AstraZeneca vaccine from a pharmacy needs to still register with Get Vaccinated to get their second dose.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, April 26
The province has administered 1,635,372 doses of vaccine so far, 89,035 of these are second doses. 36% of those eligible have received their first shot.
Those in their late 50s can now book their appointments
Patient immunization information collected and put into the registry is completely private and secure – the info is not shared with any other government agency.
There are currently 484 people in hospital - 158 of them in the ICU.
There has not been a major increase in at-home deaths linked to COVID-19 in recent weeks, despite the ongoing third wave.
Pfizer - 138,000 doses this week
Moderna – 82,000 doses this week
J&J - 32,000 doses set to arrive this week (distribution plans to come)
AstraZeneca - no new doses coming this week
Based on research, the dose interval will remain at 4 months for cancer patients – who had hoped it would shrink to 3 weeks.
COVID-19 Update - Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, April 22
There are currently 502 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in BC, with 161 of them in intensive care.
Everyone over 18 can now register online to get their first dose. Expectation that the vaccine will be available to young teens by the fall.
To ensure critical care staff are available in Lower Mainland hospitals, 750 non-urgent surgeries in Fraser Health and 1,000 in Vancouver Coastal are being postponed for the next two weeks in the following hospitals:
Surrey Memorial Hospital
Royal Columbian Hospital
Vancouver General Hospital
Lions Gate Hospital
Abbotsford General Hospital
St. Paul's Hospital
Pharmacies have limited supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine for over-40s due to high uptake and the hotspot redeployment across the province.
The BCCDC has confirmed that a 'variant of interest', the B1617 variant first identified in India, is present in the province. Some of these B1617 cases are associated with direct travel from India but the rest are community spread.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, April 20
BC is restricting travel to within health authorities only, with check points and fines for non-essential travel, until the May long weekend, at which time it will be reevaluated.
There is a growing demand on BC's 20 COVID-19 hospitals, and on healthcare workers in BC. Overall provincial rates are under capacity, but there is significant site variation in terms of occupancy and stress on staff.
The province is moving into using surge beds and levels of service deferral to support staff redeployment, as well as rescheduling some non-emergency surgeries.
While use of ventilators is at just 29%, there is a broad spectrum of care that COVID-19 patients need, contributing to staff strain.
30% of eligible British Columbians have now been vaccinated. Every eligible adult will have one dose of vaccine by July 1, and their second dose by September 2021.
60% of Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people have received one dose.
Those aged 40 and over are now eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine through pharmacies, and in special clinics located in hotspots across the province, especially in and around Surrey, and in Dawson Creek, Kensington, and Squamish.
The risk of a rare blood clot with AstraZeneca is around 4 in a 1M.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, April 15
BC hit record high hospitalizations, with 409 people currently in hospital and 125 people in intensive care. Hospitalization is now being driven by people between the ages of 40 and 79.
Overall case counts continue to be driven by those aged 19 to 39, followed by people aged 40 to 59.
BC could see 2,000 cases a day by next month if current contacts are not reduced.
63% of total new confirmed cases are variants – B117 (first identified in the UK) encompasses 50% of variant cases, and the P1 variant (first identified in Brazil) makes up 49% of variant cases.
British Columbia will now start vaccinating all school staff (including teachers), fire fighters, police officers, and child care staff using 10% of the Moderna and Pfizer supplies until AstraZeneca guidance is updated. This will kick off in hot spots in the Fraser area.
Roughly 400 people developed COVID-19 approximately 14 days after their first dose, which equates to .07% of those vaccinated.
The bamlanivimab (a monoclonal antibody therapy) trials are having difficulty finding trial participants.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, April 12
50% of new infections are now positive for at least one of the variants, the most prevalent is B117.
Nearly 25% of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine.
This week the province expects 138,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine, 105,900 doses of Moderna vaccine (expected last week), and 42,900 Astra Zeneca vaccines to be delivered. Only Pfizer has the most consistent delivery schedule.
While the province has capacity to deliver a large volume of vaccine, supply constraints are restricting it.
Province wide we have a 72% occupancy rate of base hospital beds, with 55% occupancy in critical care beds. However, hospitals such as Vancouver General, Lions Gate, Surrey Memorial, and University Hospital in Northern BC are close to 100% capacity. Ventilator capacity is not an issue right now.
Some surgical slates are being adjusted in certain hospitals (Surrey Memorial, Abbotsford, and Royal Columbian) to free up resources to manage the surge in cases. This process will be localized, and will not result in across the board elective surgery cancellations like we saw last year.
Hotspot communities continue to be targeted to receive mass vaccinations – as was done in Prince Rupert and is being done in Whistler.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, April 8
BC continues to see a rise in B117 (the variant first identified in the UK) and now an increase in P1 (the variant first identified in Brazil) – which is most prevalent among the 20 - 39 age group.
A number of the variants share a mutation of concern. The N501Y substitution is one of 8 spike proteins present in the B117, P1, and B1351 (first identified in South Africa) variants that permit the variant it is attached to, to be more transmissible.
Therefore, the strategy will shift from carrying out whole genome sequencing for positive cases to determine specific variants, to using this capacity instead for more systematic testing and sampling of all strains to ensure nothing is missed.
Given routine screening for variants will no longer take place, it will be assumed that those who screen positive for COVID-19 have one of the highly transmissible variants and will be treated accordingly.
The province’s genome capacity will also be used to determine the proportion of travelers who have variants of concern, and to monitor for re-infections, vaccine failures, and escaped variants (those that may not respond as well to the vaccines).
Workplaces continue to drive transmissions. As of Monday, an expedited workplace order will be in effect – workplaces with three or more infected workers will work with WorkSafeBC and public health and will temporarily close – realizing that some essential workplaces will fall outside the workplace order, including health care.
Recognition and appreciation was given to all the critical care teams in hospitals who have been working everyday under difficult circumstances for well over a year, saving as many lives as possible.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, April 6
19% of 4.2M eligible British Columbians have now had their 1st dose of the vaccine.
207 new confirmed cases of variants of concern reported in last 24 hours. All but one case are found in VCH. BC has had a total of 3,766 variant cases – with 266 still active.
B117 (first identified in the UK) is the dominating variant in BC, and is increasing because our transmission numbers still too high - 30% of all new cases – mostly driven by younger people attending social gatherings across the province. We are about 1 month behind Ontario, where B117 comprises about 60% of new overall cases.
We are able to trace whether those who have tested positive for the virus have also had their vaccine – we have not seen any negative effects as of yet.
The province’s online booking tool now open to register for the vaccine – More than 160,000 have registered. Once registered, those eligible at the given time period will get their invitation to book their appointment.
With the pause of the front line worker program, the AstraZeneca vaccine was rerouted to pharmacies for quick vaccination of people age 55 – 65 in advance of the vaccines’ expiration. The pharmacy program is being expanded outside of the Vancouver Coastal as new supply comes into the province.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, March 29
The Astra-Zeneca vaccine administration is on pause for people under 55 across the country, following recommendations from NACI after a number of rare blood clots have been found in some immunized patients. Updates on its continued use will be out soon.
Around 160,000 doses of Pfizer are arriving to BC this week.
The province has administered 699,092 doses of the COVID vaccine, including 87,289 second doses.
The province's test positivity rate is at 9.68%, up from 6.5%.
There are now 413 active variant cases in BC. There have been 2,233 variant cases in total.
BC is implementing a three-week "circuit breaker" lockdown that until April 19 bans indoor adult fitness groups and indoor dining, and cancels the variance for indoor worship services.
Masks are now mandatory in all schools in Grades 4-12, and strongly recommended in K-Grade 3.
All non-essential travel is prohibited.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, March 25
610,671 doses of the three available COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in BC, 87,212 of which are second doses.
Residents in long term care and assisted living will be able to have more frequent visitors starting April 1. Visit the BCCDC website for more details.
There have been 191 new confirmed variant of concern cases in BC, out of a total of 1,772 variant cases. Of the total cases, 215 are active. Close to 100% of positive cases are being screened for potential variants of concern
1,549 cases of B117 (UK)
47 cases of B1351 (South Africa)
176 cases of P1 (Brazil)
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, March 22
539,408 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 87,161 second doses – 10.5% of the eligible population have received a first dose
Allergic reactions have occurred in 50 instances, none linked to blood clotting events
There are 166 new variant cases in BC, with a total of 1,366 variant case so far.
The B117 variant, first identified in the UK, is the predominant variant at 1,240 cases.
According to data, the variants are not driving spread as we have seen in the UK and Ireland – in BC it is more of a gradual replacement of cases.
Canada is set to receive close to 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week, alongside 846,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine – BC’s share of the vaccines will be about 280,000. Canada expects to receive weekly shipments of at least a million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech for the foreseeable future.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, March 18
By April 18th the province expects to have 906,059 first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available, depending on delivery dates.
68,000 AstraZeneca doses were received last week, with another 340,000 to be delivered by late May. The US may send Canada even more supply.
Starting in April, more than 300,000 first responders, teachers, childcare staff, grocery store workers, and other workers in certain industries will be eligible for their AstraZeneca immunization, administered in parallel with the age-based strategy.
The AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered by a combination of community pharmacists, existing clinics, and mobile worksite clinics.
465,584 doses of all three available vaccines have been administered in BC – 87,120 are second doses.
More details will be coming for the 151,000 clinically vulnerable British Columbians who will be eligible before their age cohort for the vaccine.
The five HA regional call centres will condense to one province-wide centre, with the addition of a robust online booking system by April 6.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, March 15
The province has administered 409,103 doses of vaccine, 87,059 are second doses.
Canada is now receiving regular shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. And 60,000 AstraZeneca vaccines have just arrived.
Pfizer and Moderna are being used for the age based immunization program, while AstraZeneca will be used to curb clusters and break transmission chains in high risk worksites across BC, in parallel with the age-based strategy.
There are now only three outbreaks in long-term care, down from 42 in January.
In total there have been 469 adverse effects in reaction to the vaccines, including 46 anaphylaxis.
The age-based vaccination timeline is being accelerated, presuming we continue to receive regular shipments of the vaccine, as bookings are now a week ahead of schedule.
Over the weekend, a further 163 cases variants of concern were identified.
BC has seen 880 variant cases in total:
818 cases of the variant first identified in the UK (B117)
41 cases of the variant first identified in South Africa (B1351)
21 cases of the variant first identified in Brazil (P1)
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from PHO modeling briefing on Thursday, March 11
It has been one year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
BC’s infection rate has been low and steady when compared to the dramatic increases/decreases of other provinces.
Currently, BC's effective reproduction number (R1) of COVID-19 is hovering around the crucial reproductive threshold of 1.
BC is at 50-60% of our pre-COVID infectious contact rate – we need to get to 40% to bend the curve back down.
Those most at risk remains constant: less severe and fewer cases in children under 18, higher number of cases and more fatalities in those over 70. However, the spread is now being led by those aged 19-59 years.
Number of BC deaths relatively stable this past year: BC has seen a 5% increase in the number of all-cause mortality. COVID-19 is ranked the 8th most cited cause of death and illicit drug overdoses ranked as the 5th most cited cause.
COVID-19 has a profound effect on older people, the O/D crisis has an equally profound effect on younger people.
The variant first identified in the UK (B117) remains the most prevalent variant in BC, largely found in Fraser Health. Variants make up a small percentage of positive cases showing BC’s measures are working.
Public health orders have been amended to allow outdoor, socially distant gatherings of up to 10 people. Indoor restrictions remain in place.
The province is looking closely at the AstraZeneca concerns in Europe. The blood clotting events there are associated with a particular lot number, not included in BC’s allocation. There are no safety issues related to AstraZeneca in BC.
Because of its easy mobility, AstraZeneca will start being used in workplaces where clusters are found: food processing plants, large industrial camps, and farm operations/nurseries, etc.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, March 9
A modified return to certain activities might be possible over the next few weeks including LTC visits, travel in households, resumption of religious gatherings, and youth sports.
Government will be watching the US CDC's guidelines for vaccinated people (couples outside your bubble who have been vaccinated can meet inside your home without a mask) with a consideration of applying something similar here.
AstraZeneca is arriving in BC in the coming days. The shipment will be split between Prince Rupert to manage community spread and the Lower Mainland for high-risk workplaces.
BC has provided 333,327 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including 86,925 second doses.
There are 144 new variant cases in BC – with 394 cases in total. The variant first identified in the UK (B117) is by far the most prevalent.
The online system for mass vaccinations is aiming to be ready April 12.
COVID-19 Updates – Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, March 4
BC has administered 298,551 doses of vaccine so far, including 86,746 second doses.
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has said the maximum interval between the first and second doses of the approved vaccines can increase to four months.
The first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive next week, and will initially be used in the Lower Mainland to tackle clusters, with a longer term plan for it to be used for essential workers.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, approved by Health Canada this morning, requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods at regular refrigerator temperatures. Canada has preordered 10M doses.
There are a total 246 cases of variants of concern identified, with 46 new confirmed cases.
COVID-19 Update: Highlights from the PHO Briefing on Tuesday, March 2
So far, BC has administered 283,182 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, including 86,537 second doses.
The province hopes to immunize more than 400,000 British Columbians in Phase 2.
There have been 182 cases of variants of concern identified, including 22 news cases.
Dr Henry cites studies from the New England Journal of Medicineand the BCCDC regarding data on the efficacy of a single dose of vaccine and her decision to lengthen the time between doses.
The province expects to update the visitation policy for long term care and is looking to increase visits by the end of the month.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, March 1
Based on growing evidence of the efficacy and duration of protection a single dose provides, the time between first and second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has been increased to 16 weeks (112 days).
With the increase in time for the 2nd dose, the plan now is that all British Columbians will be offered their first COVID-19 vaccine by late July 2021.
The two-dose, viral vector Astra-Zeneca vaccine is now approved for use in Canada. This vaccine has the benefit of being ‘fridge stable,’ making it easier to transport and distribute around the province.
Essential workers and first responders will likely be offered this vaccine once the volume arriving into the province is known – however, they can choose whether they want the Astra Zeneca vaccine earlier or wait until their age cohort to be immunized with one of the mRNA vaccines.
The Phase 2 immunization schedule has begun, which goes by age cohort:
March 8: Seniors born in or before 1931 (90), and Indigenous people born in or before 1956 (65).
March 15: Seniors born in or before 1936 (85).
March 22: Seniors born in or before 1941 (80).
Government has created a website for seniors with details on how to register.
Phase 3 is expected to begin in mid-April for those 60 and above, and will include an online registration and booking system.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Thursday, February 26
Pfizer deliveries have ramped up this week, with 475,020 doses arriving in Canada – BC’s share is 64,600.
Moderna is set to boost deliveries beginning the week of March 8, with 466,000 doses – BC’s share will be 63,375.
The number of second COVID-19 vaccine doses administered to British Columbians February 25 exceeded those who got their first dose as immunizers play catch-up following weeks of shipping delays.
The reproductive number of the virus in BC has climbed above one. The seven-day rolling average of new cases and the percentage of tests coming back positive are climbing.
BC hopes to be screening 100% of positive cases for variants of concern by next week.
There have been 116 cases of COVID-19 variants in BC, with 9 active current cases:
95 cases of the variant first identified in the UK (B117)
21 cases of the variant first identified in South Africa (B1351)
The two cases of the variant first identified in Nigeria (B1525) are no longer variants of concern, but active monitoring continues.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, February 23
The PHO will discuss details of the planned vaccine rollout for people 80+ and the 172 mass immunization clinics at the Monday, March 1st briefing.
A new PHO order will allow dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics, retired nurses, and others, with special training, to be among those who will immunize British Columbians over the next six months in the mass immunization clinics.
Seniors will be contacted in a variety of ways from postcards sent direct to homes, home-care services, independent living facilities, and specialty clinics to ensure that no one is left out.
Of the 559 new cases reported today, none involved any long-term care or assisted living residents.
BC is currently screening 70% of positive tests for variants of concern.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Friday, February 19
BC has 72 variant cases of concern: 52 UK variant, and 20 South Africa variant.
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. Details are forthcoming.
The PHO is closely monitoring the discussion in medical media (The Lancet, etc.) regarding the level of protection against COVID-19 provided by a single dose of an m-RNA based vaccine.
BCCDC has released data showing encouraging evidence of the decline in number and scope of outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living. The links below detail vaccination rates in long term and in assisted living facilities:
The Pfizer delivery arrived mid-week, with BC currently meeting its second dose targets. Government expects similar quantities of Pfizer over the next two weeks, which will see the target of 10% immunization met by the end of March, presuming supply is on time.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Tuesday, February 16
More Pfizer vaccine has arrived in the province, but supply remains limited.
Most people who have received one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will receive the second dose within 42 days, but will depend on supply.
Evidence from Quebec and the UK shows that a longer interval between COVID-19 vaccine doses, does not negatively impact overall effectiveness.
It is still unknown how long the vaccine provides protection for, but after three weeks of monitoring LTC residents who have had a single dose, the protective effect is still at 89-90%.
The uptick in the reproduction (R) number in the Fraser Health area is being monitored closely by public health.
BC has 60 confirmed variants cases: 40 of the UK variant, 19 of the South Africa variant, and now 1 of the Nigeria variant.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Monday, February 8
Through genome sequencing, BC has identified 40 variant cases of the UK and South Africa variants. In 4 cases of the South African variant the source is unknown – this is being monitored.
BC is hoping to do a point prevalence study such as the one carried out in Ontario – this involves whole genome sequencing for an entire day’s tests. This will provide a deeper understanding of variants.
There will be a clinical trial for bamlanivimab in Surrey Memorial Hospital, to test the drug as a possible COVID-19 treatment. Health Canada has already approved it, but clinicians in the province wanted to examine the process more closely. The product was developed in Vancouver by AbCellerra and made by Eli Lilly.
PHAC (Public Health Agency of Canada) and NACI (National Advisory Committee on Immunization) are examining data around the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will likely be approved by Health Canada soon.
A province-wide essential visitor long-term care order has been issued to provide consistency in policy across all health authorities.
COVID-19 update: Highlights from the PHO briefing on Friday, February 5
The UK variant has an increased rate of transmissibility, with data suggesting more severe illness. Concern that the South Africa variant won’t be blocked by some of the vaccines.
BC is doing whole genome sequencing, looking at 30,000 base pairs of genomes that make up the virus’ genetic material, to identify the variants.
BC currently does about 750 whole genome tests on positive cases per week. Working with partners across the country, the BCCDC is looking to increase the genome tests to thousands each week.
BC has sequenced 4,500 cases to date, and uncovered 28 variant cases.
Beginning in March, community vaccines to start: aged 80+ individuals, family and specialist community physicians, hospital staff, among others.
The Public Service is setting up a hotline to call people via a number of different ways – they are currently working with MSP. More information about how communication will work coming in about two weeks – no one will be left out.
Mass vaccination clinics will be set up when the vaccine is available in March.
COVID-19 update:Highlights of Dr Bonnie Henry’s briefing on Monday, February 1
The vaccine supply is expected to increase as the month progresses, and the province continues with preparations for wider-spread immunizations in just a few weeks.
Additional Moderna vaccine is expected to arrive mid-week and end of week.
Across BC, 138,982 people have received a single dose of vaccine, 4,491 people have received two doses.
The UK and South African variants are a major concern, but cases remain low at 18.
The province is stepping up monitoring and testing in areas of outbreaks to identify the variants, and is using full genome sequencing, random sampling, and mandatory testing of international travelers to screen for variants.
Full genome sequencing is being done in all cases of school aged children. To date a little more than 11,000 genome sequencing on British Columbians have been done, at 500 per day the expectation is to increase that daily number.
The Red Cross will be providing non-clinical and admin staff support in certain LTC and assisted living facilities, beginning with Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health. Non-clinical teams will provide prevention and control assessment of the facility, identify supports required to limit the spread, in an effort to improve quality of life in the facilities.
The upcoming briefing on Friday, February 5, will include the latest provincial modelling, and updates on restrictions across BC.
COVID-19 update: Highlights of Dr Bonnie Henry’s briefing on Friday, January 29 and Prime Minister's briefing on January 30
BC received no Pfizer vaccines last week, and will get reduced vaccines for the following two weeks, but the supply should increase 3rd week of February. Moderna vaccine supply coming this week will be reduced by 20% due to difficulties at its manufacturing plant.
PHO remains confident we’ll still meet our Phase 1 and Phase 2 objectives, and be ready, once we have the vaccine available, to offer it to everyone starting in April.
BC has now offered first doses of vaccinations to all residents and staff in long-term and assisted living care facilities, with a very high uptake. As a result, there are now far fewer outbreaks in these facilities.
The number of hospitalizations are going down.
Research shows the MRNA vaccines work well in older people. The AstraZeneca vaccine has proven to work better on younger people. This knowledge helps in the strategy going forward.
Health Canada is currently reviewing three additional vaccines from AstraZeneca (expected to be approved within the next few weeks), Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax.
BC has low numbers of the UK and South African variant – the fewer transmission events we have, the less likely the virus will mutate.
The Prime Minister announced more restrictive measures for non-essential travel, including mandatory PCR testing and hotel quarantine measures.
COVID-19 update: Highlights of Dr Bonnie Henry’s briefing on Friday, January 22
British Columbia has 4.3 million people eligible for the vaccine: 2 doses = 8.6 million vaccinations in total.
We are currently in Phase 1. Phase 2 to start in February until March and will include all community doctors, and those at highest risk.
Phase 3 will be from April to June and Phase 4 July to September – both will focus on the broader population based on age.
Those born in 1941 and earlier will be the first to be vaccinated, and afterwards will proceed in five year increments.
Pre-registration for vaccines to begin in March.
172 BC communities will establish clinics in partnership with HAs and local communities, and will deliver in public venues, mobile clinics, and some home visits.
We expect to receive 800,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines between now and end of March, with 2.6 million due April to June, and 6 million due July to September.
Health Canada will likely approve AstraZeneca before end of March, which will then will be approved by provinces and territories at some point after.
COVID-19 update: Highlights of Dr Bonnie Henry’s briefing on Monday, January 18
Delays in Pfizer vaccine supply will be felt over the next four weeks – the biggest impact will be the week of January 25th and subsequent two weeks.
The temporary short supply represents about half of the expected Pfizer doses (60,000), but these will be replenished beginning in March.
The temporary delay will affect 1st doses in the short term to at-risk people, however those deemed at highest risk will continue to receive their 1st dose.
The focus for the next several weeks will be on the 2nd dose, as promised at 35 days.
When the deficient Pfizer doses are restocked in early March, the first dose program will resume its expansion. More 1st doses will be given in March, than will be given in February.
This will not delay getting the vaccine to the general public starting in April.