B.C. shortening gap between COVID-19 vaccine doses to 8 weeks

VANCOUVER — After extending the recommended timeline between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to cover as many people as possible earlier on in the pandemic, B.C. health officials have now shortened the gap again.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Thursday that B.C. is now recommending an eight-week gap between shots, down from the 16 weeks previously announced.

Invitations to book second-dose appointments have already begun being sent out to people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and those who received their first doses near the start of the province’s rollout, including the elderly, health-care workers, long-term care residents and those in remote communities.

“About 400,000 people over the age of 70 and clinically extremely vulnerable will start receiving their invites today,” Henry said.

The provincial health officer announced the expedited timeline on the same day that B.C. surpassed three million total doses of vaccines administered.

Nearly 66 per cent of British Columbians ages 18 and older have now received first doses, Henry said. Among all those ages 12 and older who are currently eligible, roughly 62 per cent have received a first dose, she added.

Almost all of the 3,032,811 doses B.C. had administered as of Thursday were first doses. Just 156,730 were second doses.

That disparity is by design. Until now, B.C. has been focused on increasing the level of immunity in communities by ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to get their first dose, Henry said.

“We are making great strides and we want to keep this momentum going,” she said. “We now have sufficient, confirmed deliveries of vaccine in our age-based program – that’s the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – that we can move up the interval.”

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