A nurse prepares a vaccine dose at an immunization clinic for long-term care workers in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)

A nurse prepares a vaccine dose at an immunization clinic for long-term care workers in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)

Island Health making hard choices about vaccines and ‘who gets into the lifeboat’

Vaccine delivery delays keeping chief medical health officer awake at night

COVID-somnia is a new term that’s started appearing in medical literature, says Dr. Richard Stanwick, and it’s a phenomenon with which he’s personally familiar.

Island Health’s chief medical officer said at a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 27, that he’s found himself awake late at night worrying about case counts, and recently, vaccine rollout.

Island Health has a plan for mass vaccination in 33 different Vancouver Island communities. However, things aren’t going exactly to plan as vaccine doses are in short supply.

“It’s really disappointing because we had really good plans to roll it out to the most vulnerable populations to really blunt the possibility of seeing the outbreaks we are,” Stanwick said. “Had vaccine been available in greater amounts and we were able to deliver it sooner, we wouldn’t be seeing the 500 cases in the last two weeks.”

The doctor said Island Health has provided 24,065 doses of vaccine so far, and and has immunized all residents who wished to receive vaccine in long-term care and licenced assisted-living facilities. Individuals in acute care who are eligible for long-term placement are among those next in line for vaccine.

Along the way there has been some re-prioritization, for example vaccination of members of Snuneymuxw First Nation and seniors from the Cowichan Tribes, as Island Health and the First Nations Health Authority have worked together to try to respond to and control outbreaks.

Island Health is also making adjustment to its immunization plan for health-care workers. Stanwick said “we have to ration it right now” to workers who are dealing with COVID-19 cases or who are most likely to come into contact with COVID patients.

“It’s gotten to the point where we may even have to ration it to only those hospitals where there are COVID units,” Stanwick said. “The big frustration is the degree to which we’re playing who gets into the lifeboat, who gets out of the lifeboat in terms of vaccine and this is not something that we ever anticipated that we’d be facing this early on.”

story continues below

The health authority isn’t expecting any more Pfizer vaccine for the next two weeks and then a small amount in the third week. Supply of the Moderna vaccine seems to be more secure, Stanwick said, but Island Health won’t know exact dose numbers until it receives delivery.

With vaccines delayed, health officials are continually re-assessing timing of the second doses. Stanwick said virologists believe a booster six weeks after the first dose might be OK, and that’s an important consideration when health officials are making life-and-death decisions to “protect the greatest number of people and approach this in a fashion that is fair and consistent for the entire province.”

The arrival of COVID variants is also a concern, as a more transmissible virus would alter previous calculations around herd immunity. And Stanwick said other health and safety precautions remain important, as one in 20 people still won’t be immune even after two vaccine doses.

Despite reasons for COVID-somnia and concerning case counts, Stanwick said Vancouver Island is “still in an enviable position” and Island Health is continuing to prepare as if the vaccine manufacturers will come through with deliveries.

“We are really anticipating that we will be in a position to offer a lot more vaccine to a lot more people,” he said. “The only question is when.”

For more details about the provincial government’s immunization plan, click here.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

READ ALSO: Canada to get 20% of promised Pfizer vaccines in next few weeks; feds look at vial size

READ ALSO: B.C.’s 1st case of COVID-19 confirmed a year ago today



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Friends have identified the man killed in Friday’s shooting in Metchosin as Shane Wilson. (Shane Wilson/Facebook)
West Shore RCMP continue to investigate shooting death in Metchosin

Man killed on Sooke Road Friday night identified by friends

Fire Chief Darren Hughes, right, pulls the old Firemans Park sign off ahead of the parks name change. The new sign for Firefighters Park is coming. (Oak Bay Fire Department Twitter)
Oak Bay changes the name of Fireman’s Park

New sign for Firefighter’s Park on the way

The WHL’s Victoria Royals will compete in a 24-game season starting March 26, <strong></strong>based out of a Kamloops and Kelowna B.C. division bubble (Kevin Light/Courtesy Victoria Royals)
‘Important to cherish every moment’: Victoria Royals not taking bubble season for granted

The Victoria WHL team’s coach and GM calls the season a ‘privilege,’ expects fierce rivalries

The Victoria Fire Department was able to contain a fire to one room after a bed placed directly against a heater ignited. (Black Press Media file photo)
Early morning Victoria balcony fire causes $20,000 in damages

Victoria Fire Department said nobody was injured in the fire on View Street

Postmark Group, an Edmonton-based development firm, bought two properties at 6641 and 6643 Sooke Rd. last year, and is reaching out to the community and local groups for feedback before they begin planning the designs for the development. (Photo contributed/Postmark Group)
Waterfront village development eyed for Sooke

Postmark Group development firm bought two properties at 6641 and 6643 Sooke Rd. last year

Const. Nancy Saggar, who has 11 years in policing, offers advice for other women who may pursue both policing and family. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pregnancy prompts sage advice from RCMP officer for women thinking about policing

West Shore constable with 11 years experience heads off on maternity leave

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Most Read