Rexall, Shoppers Drug Mart and other pharmacies have expressed interest in getting involved in B.C.’s mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign, and that should be encouraged, interim B.C. Liberal leader Shirley Bond says.
B.C. public health officials are preparing for mass vaccination of seniors in their communities, starting with those 80 and older, as shipments of vaccines pick up in March, in what will be the largest immunization program in history through 2021.
With pharmacists taking over much of the seasonal influenza vaccination in recent years, there is a comfort level with pharmacists that has been demonstrated with the greatly expanded 2020 influenza campaign. Before the pandemic, seasonal flu was one of the main risks for long-term care homes, along with gastrointestinal viruses that can be fatal in frail elderly people.
“The trust level for British Columbians has increased in terms of where they get their vaccinations,” Bond said Feb. 11, emphasizing that B.C.’s plan needs to involve everyone who already works with seniors in their communities.
The B.C. government bought an extra 450,000 influenza vaccine doses last fall, bringing its total stock to a record two million. Health Minister Adrian Dix said demand for influenza shots was exceptionally high as B.C. residents went into winter with months of COVID-19 restrictions and an anxious wait for coronavirus vaccines around the world.
The largest immunization program in the province’s history expects to stage clinics in 172 B.C. communities, in school gymnasiums, arenas, community halls, church halls and convention centres, as well as mobile clinics for rural areas. Mobile teams will also be dispatched to people who aren’t able to leave their homes, using transit buses and other self-contained vehicles.