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B.C. re-adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout after Pfizer shipment deferred

FILE - Syringes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine sit in a tray in a vaccination room at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Delay in shipment of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines means re-organization of B.C.'s plans

Health Minister Adrian Dix says second doses are less of a concern than the delay in people getting their first shot

Dix says B.C. won't be going outside the federal procurement process to obtain more doses

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — B.C. has had to reorganize its immunization plans after a delay in the shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to Canada. 

While the situation isn’t ideal, the delay isn’t derailing the province’s vaccine rollout, said Health Minister Adrian Dix Tuesday. However, it does mean a shift in the province’s focus.

He said the required second shot of Pfizer’s vaccine is supposed to be starting, but the shipment delay means there will be 5,850 fewer doses arriving next week.

“A higher percentage of the dosage we do have in the coming weeks as a result of that is going to be second doses of Pfizer,” he said. “Moderna will certainly become our workhorse vaccine for first doses.”

He adds the second doses are less of a concern compared to the delay in getting more people their first doses, which will rely on future deliveries. The province is currently giving the second shot 35 days after the first to maximize how many at-risk people are protected against the virus.

“It’s our priority to fulfill the medical direction of the immunization plan and that’s what we’re going to do. I think we can do that,” Dix said.

The health minister said B.C. won’t be following other provinces going outside the federal procurement process to obtain more vaccines, saying he’s confident in the federal government’s approach.

He said he hopes the delay is a one-time situation with Pfizer.

As of Monday’s COVID-19 update, more than 87,000 British Columbians have received the vaccine against the coronavirus.

RELATED: B.C. focuses on second doses of COVID-19 vaccine after Pfizer delay: top doctor

However, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has stressed on multiple occasions that the start of immunizations does not mean B.C. isn’t still at risk, and health measures need to be followed.

Canada’s shipment of Pfizer vaccines next week has been deferred and this week’s deliveries will be 82 per cent less than what was expected, Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin said Tuesday. Shipments will pick up again in February.

The drug company reported a temporary reduction in the company’s ability to deliver vaccines last week, as the company makes improvements to its facilities to increase production capacity in the long run.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau maintained this will not be a long-term problem and Canada’s inoculation plans in the first quarter of the year aren’t changing.

-with files from Cormac Mac Sweeney and Yasmin Gandham