Long line-ups for drop-in COVID-19 immunization clinics in some high-risk areas are a sign that B.C. has reached its lowest point of vaccine supply this week, but that is about to change, Health Minister Adrian Dix says.
A major increase in shipments of Pfizer vaccine is expected starting next week, and that has been B.C.’s most consistent supplier through the mass vaccination program, Dix said Wednesday. Moderna vaccine, which has seen several delays in shipping to Canada, is also expected to increase deliveries in May.
“This week we’re getting 138,000 doses of Pfizer, and at the end of the week, probably for next week, 82,900 doses of Moderna,” Dix told reporters at the B.C. legislature April 27. “And then next week we’re expecting 276,000 doses of Pfizer, which is obviously a significant increase. We’re ready and booking appointments based on receiving that amount of vaccine.”
B.C. is also expecting to see its first shipments of Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the first week of May. Like the AstraZeneca vaccine Canada is attempting to secure from the U.S., the Johnson & Johnson product is fridge-stable for easier transport and storage, and requires only one dose.
With renewed indoor dining and now regional travel restrictions in place until May 25, B.C.’s seven-day average of infection spread has turned down from its highest peak after it took off in November with winter weather setting in.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has noted that respiratory illnesses like colds (rhinovirus) and influenza are seasonal, picking up around the world as winter sets in and people spend more time indoors. COVID-19 followed that pattern in B.C. last year, and it is likely to do so again, helped by more widespread vaccination. World-leading vaccine rollout has dropped new case counts by nearly 80 per cent in the U.S. and more than 90 per cent in the United Kingdom and Israel.
B.C. now has more than a third of adults with at least one dose of immunization, and Dix said all three available vaccines are being used in the clinics targeting high-infection zones. AstraZeneca vaccine is now approved in Canada for people aged 30 and older, but supplies currently in fridges at pharmacies around the province have all been booked for delivery to people aged 40 and up.
Dix said the drop-in clinics are opening in COVID-19 hotspots, based on community infection data and postal codes, and people who are registered with the provincial program.
Most of the targeted high-risk communities are in the Lower Mainland, including South Langley Township, West Abbotsford, North Delta, Port Coquitlam, and the Surrey neighbourhoods of West Newton, Whalley, Panorama, North Surrey and Fleetwood, plus Vancouver’s Kensington neighbourhood and Squamish.
The hotspot program also has full-community vaccination underway in Invermere, Enderby and Dawson Creek, similar to previous programs in Prince Rupert, Whistler and many Indigenous communities where adults of all ages were offered vaccine.