'It's time to rethink': Study questions B.C.’s age-based approach to COVID-19 vaccinations
VICTORIA -- A new report from researchers at Simon Fraser University (SFU) is questioning B.C.'s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
The report titled "Vaccine Rollout Strategies: The Case for Vaccinating Essential Workers Early," draws the conclusion that if people who have the most daily contacts are vaccinated early it will cut down on overall infections.
B.C.'s current vaccine rollout plan is based on age with the oldest in the population being vaccinated first.
"We're now seeing that the vaccines do prevent infection and do prevent transmission, so it's time to rethink," said SFU epidemiologist Caroline Colijn.
Researchers say their simulations show that after people 80 years and over are inoculated, it should be frontline workers who get the needle next.
They say health officials should be targeting people who see the most people each day and might not be able to physically distance.
"What we've found is that could prevent hundreds of thousands of cases and maybe 600 deaths," said Colijn.
Grocers big and small in the Capital Region are backing the idea.
Inside McLennan's Island Meat and Seafood on Cook Street, staff say they had hoped to be near the front of the line when initial vaccine plans were announced.
"I think we should be second in line for the inoculations, 100 per cent," said Kaylee McLennan.
At larger operations like View Royal's Quality Foods, the sentiment is the same.
"This would ease a lot of the fears of our customers," said store manager Steve Metcalfe.
One person who isn't on board with the idea is Dr. Bonnie Henry.
The provincial health officer says the province’s plan was based on the current situation with vaccine supply and keeping B.C.'s most vulnerable alive.
"We are absolutely confident with marrying the vaccine we have now with the risk that we have, which is age-based," said Dr. Henry on Tuesday.
Henry said that restaurant servers, grocery workers and police officers could be inoculated in phase three between April and June if the vaccine supply is large and consistent enough.