A long-term care worker has officially become the first person to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. While this news is a cause for celebration, it also has British Columbians asking questions about who will be next in line to receive the vaccine. BC Care Providers and EngAge BC are emphasizing the importance of including employees of organizations delivering family-retained home health, and independent living workers and staff, in the early phases of the vaccine’s distribution.
Earlier this month the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) – the independent committee charged with deciding who should be the first Canadians to be vaccinated against COVID-19 – released its final directive recommending that long-term care home residents and seniors over the age of 80 get priority access to vaccinations.
While the Association full heartedly supports this recommendation, BCCPA and EngAge BC have communicated to the Provincial Medical Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, that it may not go far enough, particularly given that the age and risk factors of seniors living in independent living or receiving privately-retained home health services are often not dissimilar to seniors living in long-term care. Ensuring that this component of the seniors’ living and care sector are vaccinated against COVID-19 will be critical to reducing the impact of the virus on B.C.’s seniors.