B.C. will launch the largest mass-immunization campaign in the province’s history Monday, following Health Canada’s approval yesterday of an H1N1 vaccine.
The campaign will take four to six weeks and will be implemented in phases.
Beginning next week, the vaccine will be available first to those most at risk of complications from catching H1N1 influenza — pregnant women, people in remote communities and people under 65 with chronic diseases.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendal said there may be an “urgency” on the part of some people to receive the shot ahead of their prioritization.
“I would ask, as we have done in the past with the seasonal campaign, that healthy members of the public stand back and allow those who would benefit most to receive the vaccine first,” Kendal said.
The province currently has 223,500 doses of the vaccine and is repackaging them and shipping them to different health authorities this week.
More will arrive in later weeks, eventually reaching the total order of more than four million doses, enough for every person in B.C.
Beginning Nov. 2, the program will expand to include children between six months to five years of age, health-care workers, people with compromised immune systems and people providing care for infants younger than six months.
Three to four weeks after that, in mid to late November, immunization will be available to everyone who wants it.
“Even if up to 10 per cent of our population has contracted H1N1 by the time the vaccine is available, that still means that 90 per cent of the population are vulnerable and can benefit from being immunized.”