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COVID-19 vaccinations for eldest British Columbians to begin early March

Last Updated Feb 8, 2021 at 9:11 pm PST

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool

People over 80 should expect to soon find out where they can get the COVID-19 vaccine

B.C. records 13 deaths over the weekend

There are 40 cases of COVID-19 variants in B.C.

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — COVID-19 vaccinations will slowly become available to the general public in B.C. early next month, starting with people above the age of 80.

Each week, the province’s vaccine supply will increase, according to Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. She says those who are eligible will soon find out where they can get the shot.

“We’re working on the details in every community across the province. They will become clear in the next little while. And there will be multiple ways that we’ll be contacting people,” she says.

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Henry says the province anticipates mass vaccinations could start around early March.

The top doctor adds there have been 217 reports of adverse events from immunizations since the start of the program, and 18 of those were anaphylaxis or severe allergic reactions.

“We are watching what is happening around the world so that we can be reassured of the safety of the vaccine here in British Columbia.”

So far, vaccines have only been available for healthcare workers and those who live or work in long-term care homes.

Since the start of B.C.’s immunization program for COVID-19, 154,496 people have received a vaccine and of those, 12,111 are people who have received two doses.

Henry also announced that B.C. has recorded 40 cases of COVID-19 variants. Twenty-five are of the U.K. strain and the rest are of the South African one.

She explains most of the cases of the U.K. strain are related to travel or contact with somebody who’s travelled, but she says what is “concerning” is four of those who were infected with the South African variant are unclear where they have contracted the virus.

But she adds, “We are confident for the majority of them that there has been no onward transmission.”

Meanwhile, a new drug that could help treat people who have COVID-19, is beginning clinical trials at Surrey Memorial Hospital early next month.

Health Minister Adrian Dix adds the medicine is produced by Vancouver-based biotechnology firm AbCelerra.

“In the early two-phase data identified as a priority drug for research with the potential to reduce hospitalizations, from COVID-19. You’ll be hearing more about this in the coming weeks.”

Dix says more than 125,000 people in the U.S. are already using the medicine.

“We welcome more evidence to improve care and look forward to more data on this and then therapies to combat COVID-19,” he adds.

The province recorded another 13 deaths over the weekend and 1236 new cases — five of which were epidemiologically linked cases.

In B.C. there are 3,976 active cases, 234 of whom are in hospital 69 of whom are in critical care or ICU.

There are 6,923 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and 65,605 people who had tested positive have recovered.

Henry is announcing two new healthcare outbreaks in acute care hospitals at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital, and Dawson Creek and District Hospital.

Four outbreaks have been declared over at Evergreen Baptist Care Center, the Hilltop House, Mount Saint Joseph Hospital, and the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital outbreaks.

In total there are 22 active outbreaks in long-term care assisted living and nine in acute care involving 786 residents and 441 staff.

The pandemic continues to be closely monitored, according to Henry and she added the intent is to ease the restrictions in place “as soon as it is safe to do so.”

“We want to have that confidence that as we open up more as we have more social connections. We do not have to step back again,” she said.

“I’m monitoring for a number of things. Your cases in our communities, fewer outbreaks are unchecked transmission and places around the province. These are important signs that we are ready. Also having a better understanding of where the variants of concern are and how they’re getting into our community. We are on track. And that is why it is so important for all of us to continue doing what we’re doing, and not throw away the progress that we have made.”

WorkSafeBC and public health officers, environmental health teams are conducting spot checks and monitoring to ensure people are following COVID safety plans.