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More than 300,000 front-line workers in British Columbia will now be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in the coming weeks, the government announced Thursday.

Grocery workers, police, firefighters, teachers, postal employees, child care staff, bylaw and quarantine officers, warehousing employees and other front-line staff are considered priority groups and will be eligible to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Premier John Horgan said by immunizing these workers, they are making workplaces and communities throughout the province safer.

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“We know this has been an extremely challenging time for front-line workers. But as many of us have been able to work remotely or from home, they have gone to work day after day, day after day, and that they are the true heroes that we want to immunize at this time.”

The government said it expects to receive about 340,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of May and it plans to use a combination of community pharmacists, existing clinics and mobile clinics at some work sites to administer the vaccine to front-line workers.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C.’s age-based rollout is ahead of schedule and with the AstraZeneca supply arriving, the province can protect those working in specific front-line industries.

“Following the latest science and data to identify high-risk industries or critical services will allow us to protect even more people from COVID-19, which in turn, gives our entire communities and our province greater protection from the virus,” Mr. Dix said in a news release.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced last week that workers in food-processing plants, agricultural operations and industrial camps would be eligible for early vaccination.

Teri Mooring of the BC Teachers’ Federation said teachers, support staff and other education workers have done everything they can to make sure schools are safe, but the virus has still found its way into classrooms.

“I join all of my teacher colleagues in expressing huge relief that educators across B.C. will be prioritized in April to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” Ms. Mooring said in a statement.

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