The province’s health minister is “very disappointed” that some doctors in the Lower Mainland have jumped the queue to get their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Health Minister Adrian Dix made the comments during a press conference Wednesday (Jan. 13) about B.C.’s vaccine rollout, after being asked about allegations that doctors from Vancouver Coastal Health took their second dose before they were invited to. He said officials learned of it through a review of the systems but declined to comment on any possible repercussions.
Dr. Penny Balem, the new lead of the Immunize BC task force and chair of Vancouver Coastal Health, echoed Dix’s comments.
“It’s a serious issue. Fortunately it’s a very small number of people and… we hope this is not anything we see a recurrence of,” she said.
Health officials were also asked about reports of queue jumping by admin staff. Dix said there have been “reports of some cases where some people appear to have gone out of line for COVID-19 immunizations” but that overall rollout has been “amazing.”
Henry said that if there are doses leftover when Pfizer vaccine doses approach the maximum six hours they can handle in an unfrozen state, there is a list of people who are called to avoid wasting extra doses.
“We do have administrators, nurses in particular, who are part of our teams that go into long term care to manage outbreaks,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
B.C. has vaccinated upwards of 62,294 people with their first dose as of Wednesday, which Dix said is the vast majority of its supply. The province is getting more vaccine shipments this week and Dix said that between April and June, as mass vaccinations start, the province is expecting to get 2.64 million doses. B.C. is expected to get another nearly 2.6 million doses between July and September, estimates which do not include the 20 million extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine that Canada secured this week.
Both approved vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses for full effectiveness. However, on Monday Henry said that data from clinical trials showed very high effectiveness for both vaccines just two weeks after the first dose; 92.6 per cent for Pfizer and 92.1 per cent for Moderna.
“That is quite frankly amazing,” she said Monday, adding that clinical trials have showed no difference in effectiveness if the second dose is given 42 days after the first, or between 19 and 21. Pfizer has recommended 21 days between vaccine doses and Moderna has recommended 28.
As a result, Henry has said B.C. is attempting to get as many first doses into arms as possible. The province expects its vaccine supply to be backloaded, meaning that later months will see many more shipments than the first few months.
Health officials said Wednesday that they expect 2.64 million doses of the two vaccines between April and June, triple the amount they expect to get in February and March.
Canada has pledged that every resident who wants a vaccine will be able to be immunized by September.
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