With the first round of COVID-19 vaccine set to arrive in BC next week, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry offered her thoughts on what the future holds, and when British Columbians might be able to return to some semblance of normal.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Henry said once there is enough vaccine in the community to immunize enough people on a wide scale – about 60% to 70% of the population – the virus then “has a very hard time finding a new person to infect.”
Once that threshold of “herd immunity” is reached, “that is when transmission… goes down very rapidly and can be stopped,” she said.
Henry said she’s “hopeful” this threshold will be achieved by next summer, and if everything goes as planned, “we’re going to have a very different and much more social summer.”
By the time next fall rolls around, Henry hopes things will once again be more or less back to normal, and that the pandemic “will be on its last legs.”
When that happens, Henry says mask-wearing and physical distancing won’t need to continue but she emphasizes that staying home when sick and continuous hand washing will still be commonplace.
In the meantime, Henry said people cannot yet let their guards down, and must be vigilant and continue to follow all protocols and health measures.
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After Health Canada announced today that it has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use, BC health officials laid out their plan for how the vaccine will be rolled out to nearly 400,000 residents by spring 2021.
The Pfizer vaccine – the first of seven vaccines the federal health agency has contracts with – will arrive, and shortly afterwards, a second vaccine – Moderna– is expected to arrive in the following weeks – likely before the end of the year.
To begin with next week, two “trays” of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive at two different sites in the province – one in Fraser Health, and one in Vancouver Coastal Health.
Together, the trays will contain 975 doses, which equates to just under 4,000 vaccinations, said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
After that, health officials expect to receive in the “tens of thousands” of doses in the subsequent weeks and into early January.
By March 2021, nearly 400,000 people should be immunized in the province.