B.C. seniors over age 80 to get info next week on when they'll get vaccinated

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VICTORIA — British Columbia is expected to start informing people over age 80 about their vaccinations for COVID-19 starting next week as the province prepares to open mass clinics while doing more in-depth testing for variants.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. is in a phase of "vaccine hope and pandemic reality" but an age-based immunization plan will remain in place despite some calls to prioritize essential workers.

Henry says the province is expanding its pool of immunizers to include dentists, midwives and paramedics before 172 sites open up to eventually offer a vaccine to everyone age 18 and up.

However, she says it's concerning that cases of variants like the one first identified in the United Kingdom are increasing after an unknown number were recently identified at seven schools in the Fraser Health region.

B.C. has recorded 559 new cases and one more death, for a total of 1,336 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.

The teachers' union has called on the province to allow school districts to come up with their own guidelines on mandatory masks for elementary schools but Henry says her current directive was made with the participation of parents' groups, teachers and school superintendents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021

The Canadian Press