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WEEKLY UPDATE about Island Health’s COVID-19 vaccination program

Posted January 28, 2021

By the numbers:

As of January 26 Island Health's teams of public health and peer immunizers provided 24,065 vaccinations, including:

  • 9,413 staff and physicians in long-term care and assisted living
  • 7,033 residents of long-term care and assisted living
  • 1,252 essential visitors for long-term care and assisted living
  • 3,060 residents of First Nations communities and community response
  • 1,798 ICU, ED and COVID cohort unit staff and physicians
  • 1,375 which includes community health workers and professional staff who visit LTC and AL sites to care for clients, as well as paramedics, COVID testing staff and public health nurses who are providing vaccinations
  • 134 patients in hospital awaiting placement in long-term care

ED, High Acuity and COVID cohort units

The unexpected shortfall in Canada's supply of vaccine has made it necessary to make difficult choices about how we use our very limited supply at this time. 

After careful consideration and consultation with government, last Friday we were able to focus the supply available for first doses on those staff and physicians who spend most of their time providing direct patient care in ICUs, high acuity units, emergency departments and COVID cohort units.

Since then, thanks to quick work by the teams in logistics, public health and call centre, we have provided vaccinations to eligible staff and physicians at hospitals in Victoria, Saanich, Duncan, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Comox and Campbell River. 

As of Jan. 26 vaccinations were provided to a total of 1,798 people, representing more than 90% of those who are currently eligible at those locations.

Immunizations for emergency department staff and physicians are continuing this week at West Coast General Hospital, Tofino General Hospital, Lady Minto Hospital, Port McNeill Hospital, Port Hardy Hospital and the Cormorant Island Health Centre.

Due to limited vaccine supply, some staff and physicians who spend only part of their time in our EDs and ICUs are not eligible for vaccination at this time. This is a reflection of the current state of our vaccine supply, not the importance or value of anyone's work or safety. 

All of Island Health's staff and physicians deserve access to the protection that vaccines offer as soon as we can provide it. We are planning and preparing so that when our supplies increase we can expand vaccine access as quickly as possible. We will provide more information as soon as possible about the next round of immunizations.

While we are confident that we will get past these challenges, frequent adjustments to the vaccination schedule are a source of anxiety and stress for many of us. As Dr. Bonnie Henry noted in her remarks to the province on Monday, the vaccines are just one tool in our COVID-fighting toolkit. 

The practices that have suppressed the spread of illness so far are still the most important steps we can take. Social limits, physical distancing, masks, excellent hand hygiene and careful use of PPE continue to be essential.

Long-term care and assisted living:

While Island Health faces many of the same challenges being experienced across the country, we are also experiencing some important successes. On Monday we completed first-dose vaccinations for eligible residents of long-term care and assisted living facilities. Combined with successful first-dose clinics for LTC/AL staff, physicians and essential visitors, this is a critical milestone on the path to protecting our most vulnerable citizens from COVID-19.

Long-term care and assisted living staff will begin receiving their second doses of vaccine next week, which aligns with the Provincial Health Officer's new direction to wait 42 days between first and second doses.

VIDEO: Vaccinations for LTC/AL staff in the Cowichan Valley​

Individuals awaiting placement in long-term care and assisted living:

Thanks to a tremendous team effort between acute care leaders, pharmacy, community resource teams, public health and professional practice, immunizers visited nine acute care sites on Tuesday to vaccinate 103 patients who are waiting for placement in long-term care and assisted living facilities. Teams are now planning the complex process of immunized people who are waiting at home for placements in long-term care and assisted living.

Q&A:

Q: I feel that I should be vaccinated with other high-priority acute care staff. What should I do?

A: If you feel you have not been prioritized properly please speak with your manager or department head.  

Q: I filled out the intake survey more than 2 weeks ago. Why haven't I been contacted to make a vaccine appointment?

A: The survey was suspended shortly after it was launched because it was not serving the needs of our acute health-care team. We also needed time to adjust our plans and respond to the vaccine shortfall. Vaccine planning teams are preparing contact lists of our health-care teams, primarily according to unit. Our team will call people according to priority and vaccine availability. If you have not received an answer following the survey, please know that you will receive a call when it is your turn to receive vaccine. For additional information please speak with your manager or department head.

Q: I may have made a mistake on the intake survey. Is that why I haven't been called to make an appointment?

A: Planning teams are now using contact lists of health care teams, primarily according to unit, to contact people based on their position in the priority order and vaccine availability. The survey will not affect that process. You will receive a call when it is your turn to receive vaccine. For additional information please speak with your manager or department head.

Q: When will I get my second dose?

A: On Monday, Jan. 25 Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that BC will increase the time between first and second doses from 35 to 42 days. This is in response to limited vaccine supply and the need to provide single-dose protection to as many people as possible while we wait for supplies to increase again. Island Health's vaccination team is tracking the dates of first doses and contacting people to book appointments when it is time for their second dose.

Q: Has the priority population order changed because of the vaccine shortage? 

A: The priority population order has not changed. The Province has created priority groups with the primary focus on age and protecting those who are most vulnerable (70+). The distribution is broken down into four phases. Island Health's roll-out to groups/individuals is aligned with the directions of the Province. Read more here

Q: How was the priority population order determined?

A: 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.

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