Even though residents of long-term care homes are starting to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in B.C., one doctor says visits to loved ones in those facilities still aren't safe.
Vancouver-based physician Dr. Melissa Lem spoke with CTV Morning Live Tuesday about the ongoing distribution of vaccines in the province.
"We're rolling the vaccine out in phases here in B.C. … prioritizing the highest risk groups like those who live or work in long-term care homes or assisted living, or health-care workers who work directly for COVID-19 patients," Lem said.
As of Sunday, 24,139 people had received their first dose of the vaccine in B.C. But even though many of those are long-term care residents, Lem said it's "absolutely not" safe to go visit those people yet.
"Even though the vaccine is about 95 per cent effective at protecting us from COVID-19, we don't know if it protects you from transmitting it to other people," she explained.
"We also need to vaccinate 70 per cent of our population before we develop herd immunity, so we have to continue following all our official public health guidelines."
Health officials released an updated plan on Monday, explaining who would be prioritized next, including community-based seniors over the age of 80.
About 792,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are expected to be distributed through the end of March. After the priority populations are taken care of, Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province will begin a strategy of age-based distribution "descending in five-year cohorts."
"Public health has said that by the end of this year that everyone who wants a vaccine will have had one," Lem said.
Dr. Melissa Lem's comments were part of a four-minute interview on CTV Morning Live. Watch the full interview on the video player above.