The province will announce its plans to start vaccinating all British Columbians 80 years-old and older against COVID-19 next week, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
While more details will be released in a provincial briefing next Monday, Henry said the province will begin reaching out to people 80 and up over the next couple weeks to begin arranging appointments.
"We have run mass-clinics before. (But) this is going to be at a big scale, and it is going to be prolonged," Henry said. "This is a really positive thing, we are just going to get all these moving pieces together."
Henry released an public health order on Tuesday which will allow a wide variety of health care professionals – including dentists, midwives, paramedics and retired nurses – to be trained and authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccines.
The effectiveness of the current COVID vaccines, even in elderly patients, has been demonstrated in the province's long-term care facilities, she said.
From having more than 40 outbreaks in long-term care and assisted-living facilities only a few months ago, the province now only has 12 remaining, she said.
"We have had no new cases in long-term care (on Tuesday), and no deaths in long-term care," Henry said. "This is a success we need to appreciate and celebrate."
Across B.C., 92 per cent of long-term care residents have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 39 per cent have gotten both doses, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix added. In addition, 94 per cent of long-term care staff have gotten at least one dose, and 52 per cent have gotten both doses.
A total of 224,354 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the province to day, Dix said – including 58,896 second doses. Of those, 8,145 doses (including 2,171 second doses) have been administered in the Northern Health region, according to data released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
In rural areas, there will be large mass-clinic sites set up, Dix said, but the rural areas of B.C. provide a unique challenge.
"There are different circumstances in the north, where there are people spread out in large areas," he said. "This will be an extraordinary (vaccination) campaign."
CASES RISING IN NORTH
A total of 66 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the Northern Health region on Tuesday, according to data released by the B.C. CDC. The number of active cases in the region rose to 305, from 299 on Monday.
No new COVID-related deaths were reported in the region on Tuesday, leaving Northern Health's death toll from the pandemic at 104.
Only one new COVID-related death was reported in the province, increasing the provincial death toll to 1,336.
There were 41 people in the north hospitalized with COVID-19, including 12 in critical care.
B.C. had a total of 559 new cases on Tuesday, and the number of active cases rose to 4,677. Across the province, a 238 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, including 69 in critical care.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 77,822 cases of COVID-19 in B.C., including 4,417 in the Northern Health region.