British Columbia officials are set to provide details on which workers in the province will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine starting next month.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, vaccine lead Dr. Penny Ballem, Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix will provide details at 1 p.m. on Thursday.
The province is expecting at least 132,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to arrive at the end of April. That number is now expected to go up after reports that the United States plans to send 1.5 million doses of the vaccine to Canada.
The province is currently vaccinating people with its original shipment of 68,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine. A majority of the shipment, 41,000 doses, is set to expire on April 3.
The vaccine is being used to immunize workers in processing plants and workers living in congregate settings.
Other jurisdictions, including Ontario, are using the vaccine to immunize citizens between 60 and 64 years of age.
B.C. is using the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for its aged-based program.
The province is also expected to release details on Thursday about when those with pre-existing health conditions and those in their 70s can register to receive the vaccine.
The prioritization of different workers has been a contentious debate. Horgan said more than 40 organizations have reached out to his office asking for members to be part of the next phase of vaccination.
The province is relying on a committee of experts and an ethical framework to determine who is next. Priority will be based on maximizing the prevention of spread and will focus on industries where workers have fewer layers of protection against the virus.
The government is also contemplating whether there should be a regional approach to vaccination that could see some workers in one area of the province receive the vaccine before workers doing the same job in another part of the province.
“The issue will be where is risk of transmission the most, that is how the decision will be made,” Dix said last week.
“We are proceeding and using the AstraZeneca now, and some Pfizer and Moderna, to address transmission in community.”
The groups hoping to be immunized first include teachers, school support staff, first responders (including police and firefighters), truck drivers, and transit operators.