HENRY

Dr. Bonnie Henry, shown speaking during a COVID-19 update on Tuesday afternoon, says a mass vaccination program will begin in the next few weeks.

British Columbians could get their COVID-19 vaccination shot from a dentist at a hockey rink.

A variety of health care professionals will be enlisted in the mass immunization program expected to start within a few weeks, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.

And the vaccinations will be given at places such as arenas, schools, and community centres to reach as many people as quickly as possible, Henry said Tuesday.

"We've expanded our pool of immunizers to include dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics, retired nurses, and a number of other professions," Henry said.

"We're very excited to have the workforce that we are going to need over the next six months to ensure that we can get vaccine into as many people who want it, as efficiently as possible," she said.

About 230,000 British Columbians have received COVID-19 vaccination shots, mainly residents and staff at long-term care homes. Once the mass vaccination program begins, the vaccines will be given to the oldest people first, in descending groups of five-year cohorts.

The government will contact people in a variety of ways to inform people over 18 of their opportunity to get a vaccine shot, Henry said.

"Nobody will be left behind. We will be finding you from various, different ways," Henry said, referring to contact methods involving Medical Service Plan records, doctor's offices, and speciality clinics.

Deaths at long-term care homes have declined significantly since the vaccination program began, Henry said, attesting to the efficacy of the immunizations.

However, 559 people - significantly above the most-recent daily average over a week of 408 new cases - were diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. between Monday and Tuesday.

Of the new cases, 43 were in the Interior Health region. One additional death, of a resident in the Lower Mainland, due to the disease was reported Tuesday, making the toll 1,336 since the onset of the pandemic early in 2020.