British Columbia is aiming to have all first responders, educators and child care workers vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-May.
Those three groups are at the top of the list in B.C.’s priority front-line vaccine program, and began being immunized in late March.
The rollout of the plan was slowed when concerns emerged about rare blood clots associated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which was being used for the program.
Since then, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the plan has moved forward using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, with about 15 per cent of existing supplies going to front-line workers.
With a large shipment of Pfizer vaccine expected next week, Henry said the process should speed up.
“Our worker program will be able to be accelerated as well, because 15 per cent means a much higher volume of vaccine we’ll be able to provide people,” she said at her Thursday briefing.
“As we have more vaccine coming in … we expect to have those groups completed within the next three weeks, by the middle of May. That’s the goal.”
B.C. began immunizing the three priority front-line groups in virus hotspots such as Surrey, before moving on to other parts of the province.
As more vaccine becomes available, Henry said the province will begin looking at how to immunize other priority groups on the list.
That includes grocery store workers, postal workers, bylaw and quarantine officers, manufacturing workers, wholesale/warehousing employees, cross-border transport workers, corrections workers and staff living in congregate housing at places such as ski hills.
Henry said B.C. is expecting its first shipment of the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine next week, some of which will be used to target front-line workers.
She also urged anyone working in a front-line sector who becomes eligible for a shot through the ongoing age-based vaccination program to take that vaccine as soon as it is available.