Remote Indigenous communities are among the first to receive vaccinations under Stage 1 of B.C.’s plan.

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The First Nations Health Authority will update the public on the vaccine rollout for Indigenous communities at a 10 a.m. press conference this morning.

Richard Jock, CEO of the First Nations Health Authority, acting chief medical officer Dr. Shannon McDonald and chief nursing officer Becky C. Palmer are among those providing information on the vaccine schedule.

Indigenous communities, along with hospital workers, long-term care home residents, staff and essential visitors are among the first to receive vaccinations under Stage 1 of B.C.’s plan. Stage 2 will begin this month with vaccinations going to people 80 and over, Indigenous seniors over 65, general practitioners and medical specialists. Health care workers began administering 10,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine to 18 remote First Nations in B.C. in early January.

Those communities are high priorities because of limited hospital capacity, recent outbreaks and the number of individuals at risk of severe health complications from the virus.

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The general public is expected to start receiving their jabs in April, with vaccinations delivered based on age, starting with seniors aged 75 to 79 and moving down in five-year age groupings.

However, with Canada heavily reliant on vaccine production outside the country, experts have questioned whether shipment delays will scuttle B.C.’s plan to vaccinate all eligible residents by the end of September.

Last week, the B.C. government agreed to release detailed COVID-19 case counts to Indigenous communities after a coalition of First Nations spent months negotiating for more information to keep its members safe. The provincial health officer will provide the Heiltsuk Nation, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Member Nations, and Tsilhqot’in National Government with regular reports listing the number of infections in communities where members go for groceries, doctor’s appointments and other essentials.

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, which represents 14 nations along the west coast of Vancouver Island, had been calling for the Ministry of Health to provide information since June, when B.C. moved into Phase 3 of its reopening plan. The coalition said the information will enable First Nations to make more informed decisions on safety measures, and provide risk guidance to their members.

kderosa@postmedia.com
twitter.com/katiederosayyj

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