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B.C. premier hints at fewer restrictions for the immunized as COVID vaccine plan is updated

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)

Certain groups of people in B.C. may be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 sooner than anticipated

Premier John Horgan stresses importance of following health guidelines, even if you are vaccinated

B.C. premier asked if people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed certain freedoms

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan is being updated — again — and it may see certain groups of people get their shots sooner than initially thought.

This comes as the premier hints at more freedoms for those immunized against the virus.

John Horgan was asked whether he anticipates if his government would be allowing people who are vaccinated to do certain things people who aren’t vaccinated can’t do.

Horgan said the simple answer is “yes” — but also would not give a clear explanation as to what that might look like.

“As you know, there are no simple answers in this situation,” he said Wednesday. “We will be making changes as more people get vaccinated. Those that have been vaccinated will have a bit more flexibility of course because they’re less risk to the people around them and the people around them are less risk to them but I don’t want to speculate on any activity that may well be available to those that have been vaccinated before it’s available to anyone else.”

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However, he stressed the importance of people remaining vigilant in the fight against COVID-19, saying British Columbians have “already done so well.” He also cautioned against lifting restrictions too soon, admitting he doesn’t want to give anyone false hope.

“Nor do I want to give an indication to any group or sector that they’re in a position to change their behaviour until such time as Dr. Henry has looked at the science, looked at the evidence, tracked the issues like, where is the variant? How virulent is it? What is our vaccination rollout doing for various cohorts? Are we addressing those front-line workers?” he explained. “All of those things have to come together for us to start saying, definitively, that there’s going to be relief for individuals or sectors.”

The premier joins Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix Thursday afternoon when the province is set to provide an update on its vaccine rollout plan. The latest is expected to include how the AstraZeneca vaccine will be put to use, after doses of the drug began arriving in B.C. this week.

The AstraZeneca shot is easier to store and does not require the extreme temperatures the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines do, meaning there’s more flexibility in where and how it is administered.

It has already been made clear that the addition of this vaccine will be used to protect priority and front-line workers. The first shipments are being used in industries where personal protective equipment and barriers can be challenging, where outbreaks and clusters have occurred or are ongoing, and where workers live or work in congregate settings.

The provincial update, which is expected to reveal where the next shipments will go, will take place at 1 p.m.