British Columbia has begun booking priority COVID-19 vaccinations for people living in 13 high-transmission communities.
Adults born in 1981 or before in 15 neighbourhoods can now register and be contacted to book their immunization on the same day.
Eligibility is based on age and postal code.
“High-transmission communities have been prioritized based on COVID-19 cases, outbreaks and hospitalizations,” the Ministry of Health said in a media release announcing the plan earlier this week.
“Prioritizing high-transmission neighbourhoods will help protect more people against COVID-19, reduce transmission in places it is occurring and help B.C.’s hospitals continue to operate effectively through the third wave.”
The number of British Columbians in hospital with COVID-19 shatters records daily, as new and more transmissible variants of the virus continue to spread.
On Thursday, the number of British Columbians hospitalized with COVID surpassed 500 for the first time, prompting the province to cancel scheduled surgeries at nine hospitals across the Lower Mainland for two weeks.
About 27 per cent of all British Columbians have had at least one dose of vaccine to date.
At her Thursday briefing, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry urged all British Columbians to get immunized with whatever vaccine was available at their earliest opportunity.
“Not only are you protecting yourself, but you are protecting those around you, whether it’s at work, the people you live with, your family and you’re giving added protection. It is a benefit for all of us,” she said.
The province says it is primarily using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for priority neighbourhood program.
On Monday, the province opened vaccinations with AstraZeneca to all adults over the age of 40 through community pharmacies.
But strong demand along with the decision to prioritize key neighbourhoods has left many of those pharmacies with dwindling or no supply and long wait lists.
“We are mostly focused on trying to keep people out of hospital. And that’s why we’ve redirected it to the 13 communities where we were seeing ongoing transmission, particularly younger people,” Henry said.
“We have not received any more AstraZeneca since last week. We are hopeful that we will get more. There was delays in some of the doses we were supposed to receive in April that we don’t yet know when they’re going to arrive.”
The province is also urging all British Columbians to register through its vaccination portal, in order to be notified when it is their turn to book a shot.
If you live in one of the following neighbourhoods, you can register now for priority vaccination: