B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

B.C. public health officials are expecting their first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 next week, and are preparing to administer it to first responders and other essential workers.

Details of when people in the large group of essential workers will receive their first dose are expected by the third week of March, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said. The new vaccination program is to run in parallel with the age-based vaccination of seniors using Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, starting with those aged 90 and up next week.

Henry reported the latest coronavirus case numbers, with 564 new cases and four additional deaths associated with COVID-19 in the 24 hours up to March 4. There were no new outbreaks in communities or the health care system, with seven outbreak protocols currently in effect at long-term care and assisted living facilities. There have been cases found in three independent living senior homes, but a low number of positive tests has been found, Henry said.

Overall vaccination in B.C. is nearing 300,000, and public health officials expect the rate to accelerate with Pfizer and Moderna vaccine deliveries resuming and the permissible interval between the first shot and the booster shot extended to four months.

Henry apologized to people in long-term care whose second-dose appointments were cancelled, as public health officials updated their vaccination plan last weekend based on new research on the effectiveness of first doses over time.

“I regret that our communications weren’t able to keep up as fast as the decision-making,” Henry said, reminding people that any dose they didn’t get has gone to someone else in the community to increase protection for everyone.

RELATED: B.C. extends tourism, small business grant deadline

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