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B.C. pauses frontline worker COVID-19 vaccination program pending review of AstraZeneca

Last Updated Apr 1, 2021 at 8:05 pm PDT

FILE - Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry during a daily COVID-19 update on Aug. 24, 2020. (Courtesy Province of B.C./Flikr)

Plan to prioritize B.C. first responders, K-12 staff, grocery store workers, others for COVID-19 vaccination on hold

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 vaccines 'very effective' at preventing serious illness, help prevent milder symptoms too

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The priority-group vaccination program in B.C. is on hold, as the province has put a pause on use of the AstraZeneca shot for people under 55.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says they’ll see what comes out of the review of the vaccine, and go from there.

Henry says they continue to learn more about about the vaccines both through clinical trials and from the real world.

“After a single dose, you have very good protection, upwards of 80 per cent, and that lasts for many months,” she said.

“We are also finding out that these are very effective vaccines at preventing people from having serious illness from hospitalization, from death — and we’re finding more and more information that they do prevent even milder symptoms in people, as well,” she added.

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Two weeks ago, the province identified a long list of workers, including first responders, K-12 staff, child care workers, grocery store workers, and manufacturing workers who were slated to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine sometime in April.

This week Henry announced a pause on use of that vaccine, following a recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization not to give it to people under the age of 55. Some of B.C.’s supply of AstraZeneca has since been redirected to pharmacies, which are currently taking vaccination bookings for people age 55 to 65.

Another 832 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C. in the last day. Another five people have died, for a total of 1,463.

Speaking to variants, Henry said Thursday that there have been 80 more confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 strain, one additional case of the P.1.351 variant, and nine of the P.1.

Henry also says most variant cases are found in people between the ages of 19 and 50, though the P.1 variant is most common among those aged 19 to 39.

More than 787,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far.

There are 11,468 people under public health monitoring because they have been exposed to a case of COVD-19.

“A proportion of those people each day for the next two weeks are going to develop the illness. But the thing we do today will prevent that next generation of cases, we are likely to be in for a rough ride for the next few days. And those people who have had contact with somebody who’s been ill. You need to stay away from others. We need to stay safe,” she says.

“The numbers of contacts that individuals are having in risky contexts — contacts where it can be transmitted — has been going up.”