January 18th, 2021

Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week


By The Canadian Press on January 14, 2021.

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

VANCOUVER – Doses of COVID-19 vaccine are expected to reach close to 60 First Nations in British Columbia by the end of next week.

Dr. Shannon McDonald, the acting chief medical officer for the First Nations Health Authority, says there have been significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks.

She says “on-reserve” cases previously represented a quarter of the more than 2,500 reported cases among Indigenous people in B.C., but that’s risen to 40 per cent.

McDonald says 600 infections are active and 32 people have died.

She says vaccine delivery is being prioritized based on remoteness and whether a community has experienced a cluster or deaths.

At a news conference today, McDonald also addressed reports of racism levelled against Indigenous people as several communities fight to contain rising cases, including Cowichan Tribes on Vancouver Island.

“The racism has always been there. And sometimes it simmers very close to the surface, but isn’t as evident,” she said.

“The fear and anxiety that people may feel about COVID can trigger First Nations people being targeted.”

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February and 19 have received doses so far.

First Nations in B.C. are home to about 55,000 people and McDonald said she expects anyone who wants to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will receive their shots as more doses become available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021.

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