By Fran Yanor / Legislative Reporter

The premier called on British Columbians to help elderly people register or get to a clinic for their COVID-19 vaccine shot when it’s available.

“We’re asking neighbors of people who are isolated, who may not have access to technology. If you know you’ve got an elderly person living next door to you, contact public health, take that step,” said Premier John Horgan.

“Be a Good Samaritan, be a good neighbour.”

As of Feb.12, nearly 163,000 vaccines had been administered in B.C., about 17,500 of which were second doses. The first COVID-19 vaccinations began in mid-December, and for the past two months have been administered to frontline healthcare workers; residents, staff and essential visitors of long-term care and assisted-living facilities; elderly patients on acute care hospital wards; residents of remote Indigenous communities; public health workers, paramedics and others.

During February and March, another 400,000 high risk British Columbians are slated to get their first vaccine dose, including community-based seniors over 80 years old and First Nations people 65 years and older; people experiencing homelessness; those living in shelters, correctional facilities, groups homes and mental health residential care; long-term care support staff, hospital staff, doctors, and medical specialists, and members of First Nation communities.

By April, it is expected 550,000 people will have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently two vaccines have been approved for use in Canada, the Pfizer BioNTech and the Moderna, and both require two doses about a month apart.

Various delays originating with the vaccine makers slowed supplies in January, but increased shipments are expected in the weeks ahead.

“Events beyond our control have put us back a little bit,” Horgan said on Feb. 10. “We have confidence that the commitments from the federal government for Pfizer vaccines this week, and next week, and beyond, will get us on track.”

Meanwhile, starting in mid-February, Health Authorities will reach out to seniors 80 years and older, and Indigenous seniors 65 years and older, to provide information on how to pre-register for immunization appointments, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control.

And to make sure no one gets missed, the premier has asked people to pitch in.

“I’m hoping that you’ll contact your elderly neighbor, let he or she know that vaccines are on the way, and help them register or get to a clinic,” Horgan said. “All of us working together, I’m hopeful we’ll see a positive vaccine rollout in the very, very near future.”

Fran Yanor / Local Journalism Initiative / [email protected]