B.C. is following the lead of some eastern provinces and is lowering the bottom age limit for eligibility of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Starting later this week, the province will be launching AstraZeneca clinics directed at people age 40 and up in high-risk communities with a high rate of transmission.
The province will be deploying reserve 75,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the U.S. to communities and neighbourhoods based on case counts. Distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine already underway through pharmacies in some communities will also see age eligibility lowered from 55 to 40.
In the BC Interior, Enderby and Invermere are being targeted by specific clinics. Other communities targeted by the province include a dozen Lower Mainland neighbourhoods and Dawson Creek.
“This vaccine is a very good vaccine,” said Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead of B.C.’s vaccine program, referring to the AstraZeneca jab.
She pointed to the United Kingdom, where case counts have fallen through the floor thanks to the vaccine. Its use had previously been restricted to the specific age range of 55-65 due to concerns about blood clots, but there have been just two cases in Canada after more than 700,000 doses administered.
As of April 14, there have been 114,171 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered in B.C., with about 91,000 through pharmacies.
Looking at the vaccine program as a whole, the province says it remains on track to offer everyone in B.C. one dose by July 1.
Fifty-seven per cent of British Columbians over the age of 65 have already received their first dose, with uptake well over 80 per cent for those ages 80 and over.
The government is forecasting that it will start to see the positive impacts of the vaccine program on hospitalizations starting at the end of April.