COVID-19: B.C. tweaks vaccination plan as dose numbers drop over the next month

© Provided by Vancouver Sun The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.

B.C. will pivot to ensuring staff and residents of care homes get the required second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, after a temporary production cut for the Pfizer vaccine blew up the province’s plan to immunize 150,000 people by the end of January.

The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said on Monday that the province would receive 60,000 fewer doses of Pfizer vaccine over the next few weeks.

She said 80 per cent of staff and residents in B.C.’s long-term care facilities had received their first dose of vaccine so far, and all would receive their primary shot by the end of next week. But, she said, the drop in vaccine supply meant that the required second doses would now be the priority.

“It is a bit of a setback, but it is only a delay,” Henry said.

Meanwhile, officials announced there were 301 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed on Sunday, the lowest daily count in B.C. since Nov. 3. And there was just one new health-care facility outbreak declared in the past three days, at Eagle Ridge Manor in Port Moody.

Pfizer notified Canada and its provinces on Friday that it would be reducing shipments for a month as it upgraded its Belgian factory to increase output.

So far, under 90,000 people have been immunized in B.C. with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

“We are expecting to receive and have been reassured that we will receive the extra doses at the end of February and early March to be able to continue to expand our first-dose program and to ensure that those at highest risk in our high risk categories are covered as soon as possible,” Henry said.

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She said the plan remained to ramp up immunizations rapidly in April.

Henry said that in the past seven days, B.C. had received 46,675 doses of vaccine, 28,275 from Pfizer and 18,400 from Moderna. Over the next week B.C. is to get 2,400 doses from Moderna and 24,375 from Pfizer for a total 26,775.

For the following week, however, Pfizer deliveries would dry up, while Moderna has already delivered its latest allotment, so mostly people who are coming up on B.C.’s 35-day maximum wait for their second dose will be vaccinated.

“In this coming two weeks in particular, we’re going to have a higher proportion of the vaccine that we have on hand going to second doses and fewer first doses than we had initially planned,” Henry said.

Pfizer has promised it meet its target of four million doses for Canada by the end of March. Before last Friday, about 600,000 doses of Pfizer and 222,000 doses of Moderna had been delivered to Canada.

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In total, Henry reported 1,330 total new cases of COVID-19 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There were 31 deaths over the three-day period, bringing the COVID-19 death toll in B.C. to 1,078.

Four outbreaks were declared over in the same period at hard-hit long-term facilities like the McKinney Lodge in Oliver where 17 residents died. There remain 48 outbreaks in long-term care facilities, source of 65 per cent of COVID-19 deaths, and 10 in acute care settings.

There have been 708 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in staff at B.C. long-term care facilities so far, and 1,339 cases in residents. Almost all infections in residents can be traced to staff.

She said that most of the 13 non-residents who tested positive in B.C. over the past few days were temporary foreign workers arriving for the season.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said there were 343 people in B.C. hospitals with COVID-19, with 68 in intensive care. He said this number was stable and that there were hundreds of empty hospital beds in intensive care and general wards.

Henry said that two children who had been in intensive care had recovered, as had three people aged 10 to 19 who also ended up in an ICU related to COVID-19.