B.C. is expecting a new shipment of 55,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine this week to continue protecting elderly people in long-term care, where the first round is paying off with reduced COVID-19 outbreaks, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.
The latest B.C. share of the interrupted vaccine supply to Canada will allow public health officials to provide second doses of vaccine to care home staff and residents, as well as front-line staff in hospitals dealing with infected people. Additional shipments of Moderna vaccine are not yet confirmed, Henry said Feb. 12, but by March B.C. should have supplies for second doses of that vaccine to the people who have received a first dose of it.
The supply is expected to be sufficient to give the high-priority groups second doses of the same vaccine they have received, and begin to immunize elderly people in the community. Health Minister Adrian Dix said efforts to register people aged 80 and up living in their communities are also set to begin this week.
How long vaccine protection lasts is not yet known, but so far the results are encouraging, Henry said.
“I think we all were hopeful, especially as we saw how effective these vaccines are on older people, that as soon as we started to see particularly second doses into older people, that the protection will last for some time,” Henry said. “We’ve immunized health care workers who work in long-term care and they’ve had very high uptakes, so that’s a protective buffer, but we also have maintained the restrictions, so we’re not out of that worrisome zone yet.”
Essential visitors to care facilities have also had vaccine, and the end is in sight for the long wait for additional family members to comfort their relatives in person.
“I’ll be much more comfortable when everybody in long-term care has their second doses, and then we can allow more people in,” Henry said. “That will be happening soon.”
Canada’s supplies of coronavirus vaccine were interrupted by an expansion of Pfizer’s European plant and the struggles of it other approved vaccine, Moderna, to meet world-wide demand. Canada’s early effort to secure a Chinese vaccine for production in Canada failed when the Chinese government delivered the product to other countries but not Canada.