B.C.’s health minister says the province’s latest COVID-19 vaccination campaign is off to a strong start.
Adrian Dix said about 50,000 people got the updated COVID shot over the first two days of the campaign starting Tuesday, with 29,788 people getting the shot on the first day.
“We’re seeing a very significant take-up in appointments this week and, to date, well over 1.1 million invitations have been sent out, and hundreds of thousands of vaccination appointments have been booked,” Dix said on Thursday from Charlottetown, P.E.I., where he was attending a meeting of provincial and territorial health ministers.
Most people were vaccinated against both COVID and influenza, he said.
Despite data showing the number of vaccine doses declining per subsequent shots, Dix said the government will continue to make the case for vaccination and making it easy for people to get their shots.
“We’ll just have to continue that work,” he said. “It’s true and inevitable that as we get further away from the beginning and some of the intense periods of the pandemic, some of those numbers may be less than before, but I do think that, overall, support for vaccination is extremely high and we’re seeing that take-up this week.”
For the second fall respiratory season, COVID shots are available in 1,200 pharmacies across B.C.
Angela Gaddy, spokeswoman for the B.C. Pharmacy Association, said people have been coming in to get their jab: “Early trends are hearing a lot of enthusiastic interest from patients.”
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that people get the updated vaccine — a monovalent vaccine that targets the XBB. 1.5 strain — this fall if it has been six months or more since their last dose or infection.
Moderna’s updated vaccine has been in pharmacies before the campaign started, but shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are coming later than expected as it wasn’t approved by Health Canada until Sept. 28.
“The date of that approval meant that the vaccine has arrived later than hoped in all provinces, including B.C.,” said Gaddy.
Shipments have started to arrive in B.C. this week with more expected in the coming weeks.
Some people who preferred Pfizer for their COVID shot may only have gotten their flu shot on their first visit and may need to return to the pharmacy for a second time to receive their COVID vaccine, said the association.
Like previous campaigns, B.C. is prioritizing health-care workers and workers at long-term care facilities, followed by priority groups including seniors age 65-and-over, Indigenous people, pregnant people and people with chronic health conditions.
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