COVID-19 Immunization Plan

B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan is designed to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19. The information on this page is updated frequently and is subject to change based on vaccine availability and the latest COVID-19 data.

Last updated: March 2, 2021


Moving to Phase 2 of the plan

B.C. is moving into Phase 2 of the COVID-19 Immunization Plan. During this phase approximately 400,000 people will be immunized from March to mid-April, including seniors, Indigenous peoples and people who live and work in independent living.

Seniors in independent living or supportive housing, people in home-care support

You do not need to call to book a vaccine appointment if you're:

  • A senior or high-risk person living in independent living or senior’s supportive housing 
  • Staff in independent living or senior’s supportive housing
  • Home-care support clients and staff

Your health authority will reach out to you or your housing operator to book your appointment for you or organize a mobile clinic. 

Vaccine appointments for seniors

If you're a senior born in 1941 or earlier or an Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) person born in 1956 or earlier and you don't live in independent living, you will have to call to book a vaccine appointment over the phone.

Get ready to book an appointment


Vaccines in Canada

The COVID-19 vaccine is saving lives. Vaccines do more than protect the people getting vaccinated, they also protect everyone around them. The more people in a community who are immunized and protected from COVID-19, the harder it is for COVID-19 to spread.

The best source of COVID-19 vaccine information is the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

Approved vaccines

The COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by Health Canada are safe, effective and will save lives. To date, three vaccines have been approved for use by Health Canada.

Safety

Health Canada has conducted a rigorous scientific review of the available medical evidence to assess the safety of the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines. Feeling worried or unsure is completely normal when something is new.

  • No major safety concerns have been identified in the data Health Canada reviewed
  • We can be reassured that Health Canada has a thorough approval process that makes sure the vaccines and medicines we take are safe

Supply

Vaccine supply is distributed by the Government of Canada and B.C. receives an allocated number of doses of vaccine on a weekly basis. The allocated amount is expected to increase throughout 2021.

Vaccine choices

People eligible for a vaccine in Phase 2 will get either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Due to vaccine logistics and to make sure people get the vaccine as quickly and safely as possible, people will not be able to choose which vaccine they get. 

Essential workers prioritized for vaccination and identified in Phase 3 will be able to:

  • Get the AstraZeneca vaccine when their priority group is eligible
    or
  • Receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine with their age cohort 

More details about the prioritization of essential workers will be made available soon. All COVID-19 vaccines in Canada are effective and are safe.


Immunization in B.C.

Cost

The COVID-19 vaccine is free for everyone living in B.C. who is eligible to receive it.

Dose requirement

Currently, all approved COVID-19 vaccines in Canada require two doses of vaccine per person. 

Progress to date

The BCCDC COVID-19 dashboard is updated regularly with B.C.'s progress on vaccine dosage.


Immunization phases

How the phases were developed

B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan happens in four phases. The phased approach is based on expert advice and guidance from the NACI, B.C.’s Immunization Committee and the public health leadership committee. NACI recommends certain populations receive prioritization for early COVID-19 vaccination. Eligibility for all phases is based on the age you are turning in 2021.

Ethical approach

B.C. is committed to an ethical approach to immunization phases. The COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed equitably and ethically to people in B.C. following national ethical frameworks and BCCDC’s COVID-19 Ethical Decision-Making Framework.

Moving between phases

The timeline for B.C.’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan is dependent on vaccine supply and availability. The federal government is working to obtain as much vaccine as possible to distribute to provinces and territories. 

It's important to understand the timeline for each phase may change due to vaccine availability. All people in B.C. recommended to receive the vaccine will have the opportunity to get it in 2021. 

You will not miss your chance to the get the vaccine when a new phase starts. Once you become eligible, you are always eligible. For example:

  • If you are in Phase 2, you can get the vaccine in Phase 3 or Phase 4
  • If you are in Phase 3, you can get the vaccine in Phase 4

Reminder: Provincial Health Officer (PHO) orders and guidelines remain in place for everyone, regardless if they have received the vaccine. 


Phase 1 and Phase 2: High-risk population immunization

The focus of Phase 1 and Phase 2 is protecting those most vulnerable to severe illness first.

Phase 1

Timeline: December 2020 to February 2021

  • Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
  • Individuals assessed for and awaiting long-term care
  • Residents and staff of assisted living residences
  • Essential visitors to long-term care facilities and assisted living residences
  • Hospital health care workers who may provide care for COVID-19 patients in settings like Intensive Care Units, emergency departments, paramedics, medical units and surgical units
  • Remote and isolated Indigenous communities

Phase 2 (Current phase)

Timeline: February to April 2021

Public health immunization clinics (call-in required starting March 8)

  • Seniors born in 1941 or earlier not immunized in Phase 1
  • Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) peoples born in 1956 or earlier, Elders and additional Indigenous communities not immunized in Phase 1
 
Priority groups (no call-in required)
  • Hospital staff, community general practitioners (GPs) and medical specialists not immunized in Phase 1
  • Vulnerable populations living and working in select congregated settings
  • Staff in community home support and nursing services

Phase 3 and Phase 4: General population immunization

Vaccination for the general population runs April to September 2021. Vaccines will primarily be distributed in five year age increments, starting with the 79 to 75 age group. Monthly breakdowns for the first dose (D1) and second dose (D2) are estimates and may change based on vaccine availability.

Note: Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) are eligible to receive their vaccine with 15-year-older age cohorts. For example, if you are 40 years old, you can get vaccinated in the 59 to 55 age increment. 

Phase 3

Timeline: April to June 2021

  • People aged 79 to 60, in five year increments:
    • 79 to 75 (D1 April, D2 May)
    • 74 to 70 (D1 April/May, D2 May/June)
    • 69 to 65 (D1 May/June, D2 June/July)
    • 64 to 60 (D1 June, D2 July)
  • People aged 69 to 16 who are clinically extremely vulnerable (D1 and D2 April/June)
 

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable

People with underlying health conditions that are clinically extremely vulnerable include:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • People with specific cancers:
    • People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
    • People with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
    • People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • People having other targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    • People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • People with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell disease)
  • People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection (biologic modifiers, high dose steroids, AZT, cyclophosphamide)
  • People who had their spleen removed
  • Adults with very significant developmental disabilities that increase risk
  • Adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage 5)
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
  • Significant neuromuscular conditions requiring respiratory support

Note: Once additional vaccines are approved and become available, people between the ages of 18 and 64 who are front-line essential workers or work in specific workplaces or industries may be included in the later part of Phase 3.

Phase 4

Timeline: July to September 2021

  • People aged 59 to 18, in five year increments:
    • 59 to 55 (D1 July, D2 August)
    • 54 to 50 (D1 July, D2 August)
    • 49 to 45 (D1 July, D2 August)
    • 44 to 40 (D1 July, D2 August)
    • 39 to 35 (D1 July/August, D2 August/September)
    • 34 to 30 (D1 August, D2 September)
    • 29 to 25 (D1 August/September, D2 September)
    • 24 to 18 (D1 and D2 September)

Register to get immunized

Immunization clinics

Immunization clinics are being organized in 172 communities in B.C and will be overseen by your local health authority. Immunization clinics details will be available before Phase 3 of B.C.'s Immunization Plan. The clinics will be held at large centres including:

  • School gymnasiums
  • Arenas
  • Convention halls
  • Community halls

Mobile clinics will be available for some rural communities and for people who are homebound due to mobility issues. 

How to get immunized in Phase 3 and Phase 4

The process to get immunized will happen in three steps. 

Step 1: Registration

British Columbians in Phase 3 and 4 (people born in 1942 or later, Indigenous peoples born in 1957 or later) will register through HealthConnect, a simple online registration system, or by phone. 

Registration will help us book appointments quickly and easily. When it's time for you to register, you will select your preferred method of communication. This is how we will contact you to book a vaccine appointment.

Registration opens late March 2021. No action is required yet and no one will be able to book their appointment before the registration system is launched.

Step 2: Make an appointment

When you are contacted to make a vaccine appointment, you will be asked to:

  • Complete a pre-screening
  • Select a location, date and time

You will be able to make your appointment online or by phone. 

Step 3: Appointment day

Come prepared to your appointment and arrive a few minutes before your scheduled time. At the immunization clinic you will:

  • Complete a check-in process
  • Get your vaccine dose
  • Wait in an observation area for about 15 minutes

Getting the second dose

People who get their first vaccine dose will be notified by email, text or phone call when they are eligible to book an appointment for their second dose.


Proof of immunization

You will have the option to receive a paper and digital copy of your immunization record card. We recommend registering for Health Gateway, where your digital immunization record card will be available only after you receive the vaccine.

Note: Health Gateway is not a source of vaccine or immunization information. 

Your immunization record will be also be stored in the online provincial database, accessible to you, public health and your doctor.

Example of a paper immunization record card:


Community immunity

Vaccines do more than protect you from COVID-19, they also protect everyone around you. The more people in a community who are immunized against COVID-19, the harder it is for the virus to spread.
 
Community (herd) immunity could be reached when a large majority of people in B.C. are immunized against COVID-19. When you choose to be vaccinated against COVID-19, you are helping save lives by protecting your household and your entire community from the virus.

Lifting restrictions

Lifting current restrictions will be based on many factors, including:

  • Number of people immunized and level of community immunity
  • Number of COVID-19 cases in the province
  • Health care system capacity

Layers of protection

Going back to normal life will take time. Even if you have received the vaccine, you must follow provincial health orders and protect others by:

  • Washing your hands
  • Staying home when sick and getting tested
  • Keeping a safe distance from others
  • Wearing a mask in public indoor spaces

Together, we can keep each other safe. 



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