COVID-19 Update for Patients

A new coronavirus is the cause of an outbreak of respiratory infection, now known as COVID-19. The number of cases worldwide is changing quickly. B.C. has confirmed cases of coronavirus. Find information about the virus, how to protect yourself, your family, and your community.

What you need to know:

Mandatory mask use to begin in all health care facilities, including family doctor and community specialist offices

BC’s Ministry of Health has announced a new Mask Use Policy that applies to all health care facilities for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The policy mandates that all patients, visitors, health care providers, and non-clinical staff must wear medical masks in all settings where health care is provided. This includes community doctors’ offices, long term care, and assisted living facilities. The policy states that mask wearing is one element in the hierarchy of infection prevention along with physical distancing, quarantine/isolation, staying home when ill, and hand hygiene. The full policy is available here: Mask Use in Health Care Facilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic


COVID-19 vaccine update

The first supply of a COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in BC.

Please note that the COVID-19 vaccine is not available for everyone at this time. Vaccines will be distributed in phases over the coming months.

COVID-19 vaccines are saving lives, keeping people healthy and helping to curb the worldwide pandemic. Everyone who is recommended to receive the vaccine in B.C. will have the opportunity to be immunized by the end of 2021. Right now, we are in Phase 2 of the provincial vaccine rollout plan, and all those 80 years and older, and Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) people 65 years and older,
are eligible to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Your questions answered about the COVID-19 vaccine in BC

● COVID-19 vaccines are saving lives, keeping people healthy and helping to curb the worldwide pandemic. Every adult in B.C. who is recommended to receive the vaccine will have the opportunity to be immunized by the end of 2021.
● Right now, we are in Phase 2 of the B.C. vaccine rollout plan, and all those 80 years and older and Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) people 65 years and older are eligible to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose free of charge.
● COVID-19 vaccination clinics will open across VCH communities on Monday, March 15 and all those 80 years and older and Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) people 65 years and older will be invited to book their appointments starting on March 8 by age group.
● To facilitate access to as many eligible residents as possible, the following age groups are invited to call the toll-free appointment booking phone line at 1-877-587-5767 starting on the dates indicated below:

Seniors in Richmond, Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver
Call Starting March 8: (Vaccinations starting March 15)
Year of birth in or before 1931 (seniors 90 years of age and older); year of birth in or before 1956 for Indigenous people (65 years of age and older)

Call Starting March 15: (Vaccinations starting March 22)
Year of birth in or before 1936 (seniors 85 years of age and older); year of birth in or before 1956 for Indigenous people (65 years of age and older)

Call Starting March 22: (Vaccinations starting March 29)
Year of birth in or before 1941 (seniors 80 years of age and older); year of birth in or before 1956 for Indigenous people (65 years of age and older)

Seniors in Sunshine Coast, Powell River, Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton
Call Starting March 8: (Vaccinations starting March 15)
Year of birth in or before 1941 (seniors 80 years of age and older); year of birth in or before 1956 for Indigenous people (65 years of age and older

● Please reach out to family members, friends and neighbours to inform seniors in our community
that it is soon their turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and how they can book an appointment.
● Vaccines authorized for use in Canada are safe and effective for all adults, including older adults.

Which groups are eligible for the vaccine during Phase 2?

Seniors who are 80 years of age and older, and Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) people 65 years of age and older.

What if the senior turns 90 years old or the Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) person turns 65 later this year?

Seniors born in 1931 or earlier and Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) people born in 1956 or earlier can book their appointments starting on March 8 with the first age group (seniors 90 years of age and older and Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) people 65 years of age and older).

When can seniors aged 80 years and older and Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) people book vaccination appointments?

COVID-19 vaccination clinics will open to seniors across VCH communities on Monday, March 15, but seniors 80 years of age and older, and Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) people 65 years of age and older will be invited to book their appointments by age group beginning Monday, March 8.
To facilitate access to as many eligible seniors as possible, they are invited by age group to call the toll-free appointment booking line 1-877-587-5767 from the dates indicated below:

Seniors in Richmond, Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver
Call Starting March 8: (Vaccinations starting March 15)
Year of birth in or before 1931 (seniors 90 years of age and older); year of birth in or before 1956 for Indigenous people (65 years of age and older)
Call Starting March 15: (Vaccinations starting March 22)
Year of birth in or before 1936 (seniors 85 years of age and older); year of birth in or before 1956 for Indigenous people (65 years of age and older)
Call Starting March 22: (Vaccinations starting March 29)
Year of birth in or before 1941 (seniors 80 years of age and older); year of birth in or before 1956 for Indigenous people (65 years of age and older)

Seniors in Sunshine Coast, Powell River, Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton
Call Starting March 8: (Vaccinations starting March 15)
Year of birth in or before 1941 (seniors 80 years of age and older); year of birth in or before 1956 for Indigenous people (65 years of age and older)

What number do seniors call to book a vaccination appointment?

Those eligible to receive the vaccine can call toll free 1-877-587-5767 to book an appointment. The appointment booking centre will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and eligible seniors are invited to call according to their age groups. They will need to provide their legal name, date of birth, postal code, personal health number and contact phone number.

What if they do not have a provincial health number?

They will still be able to book a vaccination appointment.

Will caregivers or family members be able to book on behalf of people?

Yes, they will need the person’s legal name, date of birth, postal code, personal health number and contact phone number.

What are the hours of the appointment booking centres?

The VCH appointment booking centre will be open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m

What are the hours of the vaccination clinics?

Most vaccination clinics across the VCH region will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with some evening appointments available. Please check the hours for the local clinic, which are available at www.vch.ca.

Where will the vaccination clinics be located within VCH?

There will be vaccination clinics located in Vancouver, Richmond, the North Shore, Squamish, Whistler, Sechelt and Powell River.

● Vancouver
● Richmond
● North Vancouver
● West Vancouver
● Bowen Island
● Squamish
● Whistler
● Pemberton
● Sechelt
● Gibsons
● Madeira Park
● Powell River

How will seniors who are homebound get vaccinated?

For those who are unable to travel to vaccination clinics on their own and do not have family members who can provide transportation, VCH will make alternative arrangements. Everyone 80 years of age and older, along with Indigenous people 65 years of age and older, will have the opportunity to be vaccinated.

Where can I direct seniors who live outside of the VCH region?

Health authority Phone line Website
Fraser Health 1-855-755-2455 http://www.fraserhealth.ca/vaccineboookinginfo
Vancouver Island Health 1-844-439-1919 http://www.islandhealth.ca/learn-about-health/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine
Interior Health 1-877-740-7747 http://www.interiorhealth.ca/
Northern Health 1-844-255-7555 http://www.northernhealth.ca/
How can we help promote VCH vaccination clinics to eligible seniors?

Everyone is invited to help by talking to family members, friends and neighbours about the COVID19 vaccination program. This will help us reach vulnerable seniors in the community to let them know they’re now eligible to receive a vaccine and how to book an appointment.

How will Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit)people aged 65 years and older be provided a vaccine appointment?

Anyone calling who self-identifies as Indigenous and is 65 years of age or older will be permitted to book an appointment. All VCH vaccination clinics will be welcoming to all Indigenous people.

Will Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) people need to have a status card and/or provide a provincial health number?

No. Indigenous people who self-identify will not be required to provide a status card or other documentation. Everyone attending a vaccination clinic will be asked to provide photo ID and their provincial health number.

What if I don’t have a provincial health number?

Please bring photo ID. You will still be eligible to be vaccinated.

What about Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit)people who are not from B.C. – where would they be vaccinated?

Since travel is not recommended during the pandemic, we ask that you not return to your Nation to receive your vaccination. Indigenous people can attend any vaccination clinic in the community.
Everyone calling the toll-free phone line to book an appointment will be asked where they live and if they identify as Indigenous. They will then be able to choose to attend any clinic in their local community. There will be Indigenous owned and operated clinics in some VCH urban centres that will have Elders and cultural/ceremonial plans in place. All VCH clinics will be welcoming to all Indigenous people.

I work with Indigenous people. Am I eligible to be vaccinated?

All health-care workers employed by a health authority who provide direct patient or client care in the Vancouver Coastal Health region are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. This includes health-care workers employed by Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Health Care, Provincial Health Services Authority and First Nations Health Authority. Family doctors, nurse practitioners and medical specialists who provide care in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, but who are not affiliated with a health authority, are also eligible for vaccination.

What do people need to bring to their vaccination appointment?

Photo identification that shows date of birth and personal health care number (e.g. driver’s licence, B.C. services card, B.C. Care Card). Those without a personal health number can still attend for vaccination if they are 80 years of age or older or Indigenous people 65 years of age and older. They should also wear a short-sleeved shirt.

Can people bring a support person with them to their immunization appointment?

Yes, seniors may bring one person who can accompany them through the process, as support.

How long will each vaccination appointment take?

Appointments should take about 15 minutes once inside the clinic to go through check-in and to receive your vaccination. There is also a 15-minute, post-vaccine observation time required.

Are supports available for those who are not mobile enough to go to a clinic?

When booking the appointment, the person will be asked if they are able to come to a vaccine clinic or if someone can bring them. If the person is physically unable to attend, arrangements will be made for a home visit, and the client will be called back by the home vaccination team.

What vaccines are available for COVID-19?

The currently approved and available COVID-19 vaccines in BC are the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines. These two vaccines are mRNA vaccines

Can a person get COVID-19 from the vaccine? Will it protect me from COVID-19 immediately?

No, the COVID-19 vaccines cannot give a person COVID-19. It takes about two to three weeks for the body to gain protection from the COVID-19 vaccine. This means that if you are exposed to COVID-19 before or soon after getting the vaccine, your body will not have protection against the virus.

Anyone experiencing new symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever or cough, after they’ve been vaccinated, should contact 811 or refer to the BC self-assessment tool to determine if they need to be tested.

Should the person continue to wear a mask after they receive the vaccine?

Public health orders and guidelines remain in place for everyone, regardless if they have received the vaccine. After vaccination, it will still be important to wash your hands, adhere to social distancing guidelines, wear a non-medical mask in indoor public places, and stay home when sick. If you travel outside Canada, you will still be required to quarantine after your return.

We still don’t know for certain how long the protection lasts from COVID-19 vaccines or how well they work in preventing asymptomatic infection or reducing transmission of the virus. As more evidence is available, these recommendations may change.

Are there side effects from the vaccine?

It is common to experience some side effects after you get the vaccine. Side effects are typically mild to moderate, such as a sore arm, and usually go away on their own. Learn more about what to expect when you get a COVID-19 vaccine by visiting gov.bc.ca/covid19.

How effective are the vaccines?

Both vaccines are about 95 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection after receiving two doses. Protection is strong after one dose of either vaccine beginning about 2 weeks after the vaccination. The duration of protection is not yet known for one or two doses of the vaccine but is being actively monitored. Learn more on the vaccines for COVID-19 by visiting gov.bc.ca/covid19.

When should someone receive their second dose?

The World Health Organization and the Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) support up to 42 days between doses, and other jurisdictions are using a longer time between doses, up to 12 weeks. This allows a greater number of people to receive the important protection from a first dose of vaccine, given limited vaccine supply currently and high rates of
COVID-19 transmission.
There is good evidence that in the short term, one dose of the vaccine provides very high protection that lasts for weeks. A second dose ensures stronger and longer lasting protection. In general, extending the time between first and second doses does not reduce vaccine protection over the long term and for most vaccines, a slightly longer interval is better.
When you receive your first vaccine dose, you will be advised when to book your appointment for a second dose.

Please note that the circumstances around COVID-19 vaccines in B.C. are changing regularly, so this information may change.

Can a person travel after they receive the vaccine?

Federal requirements for non-essential international travellers, including the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test and a 14-day quarantine period after returning to Canada, will continue to apply to those vaccinated. Provincial health orders and guidelines remain in place for everyone, even if you have received the vaccine. Learn more about province-wide restrictions.

Who shouldn’t get the vaccine?

Nearly everyone 18 years of age and older is able to safely receive the vaccine. Only people who have experienced a severe allergic reaction to a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or to one of the vaccine components cannot get vaccinated. Learn more about considerations for the vaccine by visiting gov.bc.ca/covid19.

What if someone has concerns about the vaccine?

If you have questions or concerns about the vaccine and its safety, please visit the following websites, which offer information about the vaccine: BC Centre for Disease Control, Government of BC and Government of Canada. They can also speak to their health-care provider if they have further concerns or questions.

Where can I direct people who are looking for more information?

More information is available on the Vancouver Coastal Health website at www.vch.ca/COVID19.
Resources for professionals – BC Centre for Disease Control
COVID-19 Immunization Plan – Government of BC


Below you can find more information about COVID-19, including symptoms, health precautions, travel precautions, and regular updates on the situation in Canada.

Visit the Vancouver Coastal health: http://www.vch.ca/about-us/news/vancouver-coastal-health-statement-on-coronavirus

BC COVID-19 Support App
The BC Government has launched a COVID-19 support App to help provide residents with the latest information on the ongoing pandemic. The app can be downloaded through the Apple Store or Google Play and is also available as a website online here.

Besides acting as a platform for posting information and alerts, the app also features the B.C. government’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool that can help residents decide if they need to seek coronavirus testing.

Government of Canada information:

  1. About Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/being-prepared.html#a2
  2. Travel advice: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html
  3. Community-based measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals/public-health-measures-mitigate-covid-19.html
  4. New province-wide public directory that helps people connect to care shares COVID-19 Patient Resources: https://pathwaysmedicalcare.ca/covid-flu