BC, December 15, 2020. Today marks the first day of British Columbia’s provincewide COVID-19 immunizations, the most comprehensive vaccine program to ever be delivered in B.C.
Over the coming days, approximately 4,000 health-care workers in British Columbia will be rolling up their sleeves to receive the first approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Nisha Yunus, a 64-year old residential care aid was one of the first people in British Columbia to receive the COVID-19 immunization. Yunus has worked in the same long-term care home in the Vancouver Coastal Health region for 41 years, all in the same unit and on the same floor.
The first person in the Fraser Health region to be vaccinated was Linda Latour, a health-care assistant. Yunus and Latour provide personal care and support to seniors and this vaccine will ensure the people they care for will be a little safer today.
“I am so grateful. It feels like a dream came true. It is both a privilege and an honour to receive the first COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia,” Yunus said. “I have seen first-hand what COVID-19 does to families, and I am hopeful we are getting closer to finally reaching the end of this pandemic, so people can reunite safely with their loved ones and put this behind us.”
The first approved COVID-19 vaccine is being administered to health-care workers who work in long-term care homes and front-line health-care workers essential to the COVID-19 response.
“This is a hopeful day for all of us in B.C.,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Among the very first people to receive it are those who care for and support B.C.’s seniors – by getting immunized, they are helping to protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and helping us all get one step closer to ending this pandemic.”
Starting the week of Dec. 21, 2020, vaccines will be delivered weekly to all health authorities. Expected timelines will depend on vaccine approval and availability. As vaccines become more available, they will be provided to other priority groups throughout British Columbia.
“Every person who receives the vaccine makes all of us that much safer, and we now have a safe and effective vaccine available and rolling out in B.C. This vaccine and the others that will be available in the weeks ahead will save lives, protect those who are most vulnerable and reduce the disruption that we have experienced in communities everywhere,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer. “We are not yet through the storm, but brighter days are indeed on the horizon.”
A registration and record system are in development, including a process to register for vaccine access and so people can receive a formal record of immunization.
All vaccines go through a rigorous regulatory scientific review process for safety, quality and efficacy at Health Canada before being made available to the public.
The immunization plan is being led by Dr. Ross Brown, Vancouver Coastal Health’s vice-president for pandemic response and director of regional emergency operations centre; Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer; and the Ministry of Health. They are supported by the Immunize BC Operations Centre that includes BC Centre for Disease Control, Provincial Health Services Authority, First Nations Health Authority, Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Armed Forces and health authority and ministry leadership.