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B.C. halts AstraZeneca vaccine to help COVID-ravaged countries like India

Last Updated May 18, 2021 at 6:02 am PDT

Several vials of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy in Amherstview, Ontario on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues across Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province's pause on AstraZeneca vaccines was in part to help COVID-ravaged countries

She says the Pfizer, Moderna brands are difficult to store and that's partly why B.C. halted delivery of AstraZeneca

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C.’s top doctor says global efforts are now being made to ensure more fridge-friendly vaccines are available in places like India, where death tolls are significantly higher.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says the Pfizer and Moderna brands are difficult to store and that’s partly why B.C. halted delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“We need to be part of the global community to provide vaccines for other countries … we are not safe until we’re all safe and that includes providing as much vaccine as we can to countries globally.”

The World Health Organization has urged rich countries to reconsider plans to vaccinate children and instead donate COVID-19 shots to lower income counties. Henry says the province looked at that possibility but determined that, while children may have milder symptoms, “it is not insignificant for many children and we’ve seen that unfortunately here in B.C. too.”

“There are many communities in our province where the demographics tend to be younger. And younger people, especially teenagers, are a larger proportion of that community, and providing protection to the whole community, or to the large multi-generational families, or to the environment where they’re working or living is dependent on them being protected as well,” she explained.

“So we did make the decision in Canada that it was important for us to protect that segment of our population and we’re moving ahead with that vaccine program.”

Meanwhile, Health Minister Adrian Dix says efforts are ramping up to fully immunize everyone in this province.

“We’ve got to really make an effort this month to raise our levels of the first dose of immunizations. We are going to continue this effort throughout the coming months, because we’re gonna have second homes clinics open for months, months, months after that,” he said.

He adds anyone with plans to vacation this summer will not be able to jump the cue to get fully immunized before 2nd doses are delivered to anyone else –including people considered vulnerable.