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COVID-19 vaccinations get underway in Smithers

First doses are being administered to long-term care residents and priority health care staff

COVID-19 vaccinations are underway in Smithers.

Eryn Collins, a spokesperson for Northern Health, confirmed the first Pfizer-BioNTech doses were administered this last Friday (Jan. 22) and are currently being given at the Bulkley Lodge and Bulkley Valley District Hospital to long-term care residents and priority staff.

Vaccinations also started in Houston last week.

Collins said, although there are concerns about the supply of vaccines, they still expect to be able to complete the Phase 1 and Phase 2 rollout by the end of March.

READ MORE: B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

“As more vaccines are approved by Health Canada and more supply is received, more groups and communities will receive COVID-19 vaccine,” Collins said.

She added those receiving their first dose this week will be scheduled to receive their second dose within the recommended timeframe which, in B.C., is 35 days.

There’s no immediate indication of whether a temporary delay in the anticipated supply of the Pfizer vaccine will affect Smithers residents who are to receive their second dose or their first one.

“More information on second doses and rollout of vaccine to other priority populations will be available as we learn more about shipment volumes and types of vaccine being received,” said Collins.

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That temporary reduction in the amount of Pfizer vaccine coming to Canada from Europe did, however, result in the cancellation of a planned vaccination clinic this week in the Lakes District.

Eligible residents and health care professionals there had begun receiving first doses last week.

“The postponement of some immunizations in the Lakes District is the result of the delays in shipment of Pfizer vaccine, and our need to prioritize immunization of residents and staff in long-term care facilities across the entire NH region for the month of January,” said Collins.

Pfizer announced the temporary delay in vaccine deliveries so that it can add capacity at its Belgian production facility.

- with files from Priyanka Ketkar and Thom Barker

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