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B.C. grocery store workers still wondering when they can get the COVID-19 vaccine

Last Updated Mar 3, 2021 at 12:33 pm PDT

A pharmacist prepares a syringe of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, at Queen Anne Healthcare, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Summary

Union says grocery store employees are essential and frontline workers who want access to the vaccine

B.C. looking into possibility of vaccinating more essential workers earlier

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Grocery store workers in B.C. are anxiously waiting for word on when they will get access to the COVID-19 shot.

The province has suggested they could get access to the COVID-19 shot sooner rather than later, but no date has been announced yet.

Dan Goodman with UFCW 247 speaks for grocery store workers across the province.

“Our members don’t have control over the public — the people that are coming into these places and shopping — and that’s the bottom line. They just want to be able to go home to their families and feel safe,” he said.

He says the union has been vocal in its view that grocery store employees are essential and frontline workers.

“They want answers. It’s difficult when they’ve been told all along that they’re essential. It’s a two-way street: They want to see some recognition for that,” Goodman said.

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B.C. is set up to distribute COVID-19 vaccines by age — opening up by five-year increments, starting with those aged 90 and up— but with the approval of AstraZeneca and the extension of time between doses, the province is looking into the possibility of vaccinating more essential workers, especially first responders, earlier than their age bracket might be.

The province is extending the time between the first and second vaccine doses, giving them four months apart, instead of 42 days.

“That means we can move everybody up the list. More people will be protected sooner. Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people sooner,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday.

Dr. Penny Ballem is heading up the rollout in B.C. She said this move frees up tens of thousands of shots that, along with now having AstraZeneca, moves up the September goal.

“It will likely result in by mid-to-late July we will have been able to give a first dose to everybody in our population,” she said.

-With files from Hana Mae Nassar and Liza Yuzda