VIDEO: B.C. planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the first weeks of 2021

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Pfizer announced Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, more results in its ongoing coronavirus vaccine study that suggest the shots are 95% effective a month after the first dose. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)
This October 2020 photo provided by Pfizer shows part of a “freezer farm,” a football field-sized facility for storing finished COVID-19 vaccines, under construction in Kalamazoo, Mich. Pfizer’s experimental vaccine requires ultracold storage, at about -70°C, so as they are made, the vaccines are being stored in special freezers until the Food and Drug Administration approves use and the vaccines can be distributed. (Jeremy Davidson/Pfizer via AP)This October 2020 photo provided by Pfizer shows part of a “freezer farm,” a football field-sized facility for storing finished COVID-19 vaccines, under construction in Kalamazoo, Mich. Pfizer’s experimental vaccine requires ultracold storage, at about -70°C, so as they are made, the vaccines are being stored in special freezers until the Food and Drug Administration approves use and the vaccines can be distributed. (Jeremy Davidson/Pfizer via AP)

There may be light at the end of the pandemic tunnel for B.C., even as the province deals with a surge in cases and an increase in deaths due to the virus.

“We expect, and what we’re planning for, is the first week of January, week one of 2021 to be ready to deliver the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday (Nov. 25).

The two COVID-19 vaccines that look most ready to be deployed come the new year are made by Pfizer and Moderna, and both use messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. Preliminary data shows that both vaccines are at least 90 per cent effective, but both come with challenges.

Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored at -70 C, while Moderna’s needs a temperature around -20 C. The federal government is working on procuring 126 freezers, including 26 ultracold ones, to hold millions of doses of vaccines. Pfizer’s vaccine has been sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee for emergency approval on Dec. 10.

Here in B.C., Henry said that the vaccines will first need to be approve by Health Canada before the province can get its hands on them.

“Our job is to make sure we’re… ready, as soon as the vaccine is ready, to get it to the people who need that protection here,” she said.

Henry said that Dr. Ross Brown of Vancouver Coastal Health will join the group working to organize the logistics.

The question of who will get the vaccine first relies on Canada’s ethical framework, which prioritizes people at high-risk, health-care workers and other essential employees.

“We will not have enough vaccine in the first few weeks to months of the vaccine program to give vaccination to all of those people in those priority groups. So where do start?” she said, acknowledging the difficulties that will come with outsourcing vaccine production. Canada does not have the manufacturing capacity to make the COVID-19 vaccines in-house.

READ MORE: Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution, says Trudeau

READ MORE: B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Penticton Regional Airport saw just under 34,000 total flight movements in 2020. (Black Press file)
Penticton Airport sees 75 per cent drop in use in 2020

The airport saw under 34,000 total aircraft movements

Interior Health declared the COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place long term care home over Monday, Jan. 18, 2020. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place care home declared over

‘This has been one of our most challenging outbreaks so far,’ says chief medical health officer

This is the location, 3240 Skaha Lake Road, of where BC Housing plans to build a four storey supportive housing project for the homeless and at risk of being homeless. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton mayor and MLA concerned about new homeless housing

BC Housing is holding a virtual info meeting Tuesday evening, Jan. 19

Sunnybank
COVID-19 related deaths at Oliver, West Kelowna and Vernon senior care homes

Sunnybank, Heritage Retirement Residence and Noric House recorded deaths over the weekend

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. turns to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supplies slow

Pfizer shipments down until February, to be made up in March

B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced funding to train community mental health workers at four B.C. post-secondary institutions. (Stock photo)
B.C. funding training of mental health workers at four post-secondary institutions

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP intercepted an impaired driver Sunday afternoon, Jan. 17, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Impaired driver pulled off Vernon road thanks to public tip

RCMP Drug Recognition Expert called in for assistance in investigation of Coldstream man

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19

Most Read