A nurse holds a phial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, as the U.K. health authorities rolled out a national mass vaccination program. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool)

A nurse holds a phial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, as the U.K. health authorities rolled out a national mass vaccination program. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool)

B.C. COVID-19 vaccinations reach nearly 12,000 people

Moderna vaccines arrive, remote areas a priority

B.C. has received its first shipments of the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19, with nearly 12,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine delivered to front-line health care workers and seniors in care.

The Moderna vaccines require less low-temperature storage and will be prioritized for remote regions in B.C.’s North, Interior and parts of Vancouver Island, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Dec. 29. Both require two doses over several weeks to reach their highest effectiveness.

Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix reported five days of declining diagnosed cases over the Christmas period, and urged people to follow the current public health order banning in-home gatherings for New Year’s Eve and the remainder of the holiday season.

Dix said all the Pfizer vaccine B.C. has will be administered as first doses, ramping up to 20,000 by the third week of the program. Training for delivery was carried out over the weekend following Christmas.

RELATED: B.C. COVID-19 cases declining, but 74 more deaths

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Henry said there have been two allergic reactions so far to the Pfizer vaccine, both health care employees who have been treated and recovered.

“This is not unexpected given what we have learned about the messenger RNA vaccines, and what we’ve seen in other jurisdictions,” Henry said.

The health ministry has identified several remote Indigenous communities where the Moderna vaccines will be administered first. Henry noted that both of the vaccines now approved for use in Canada are “fussy” and require substantial training to administer. They were developed in record time by using “messenger RNA” that induces a cell response to defend against the identified virus.

A new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that was first identified in Britain has been detected in one case of a traveller to Vancouver Island, who developed symptoms while in federally-mandated 14-day quarantine, Henry said. British results show the new strain is more easily transmitted, but there is no evidence it causes more severe illness or is resistant to vaccines, she said.


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