In episode 17 of our COVID19 Road to a vaccine series, our host, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford, speaks to Dr Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer (PHO) for the Province of BC in Canada. As the PHO Bonnie is leading the province’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bonnie has been in this role since the beginning of 2018 and prior to this was the deputy PHO for three years. She specialises in public health and preventative medicine, and has a background working with the World Health Organisation and UNICEF polio eradication program in Pakistan and with the WHO during the Ebola outbreak in Uganda. She has experience leading responses to SARS, the H1N1 pandemic and the overdose emergency in BC. Bonnie is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine and is a member of the Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunisation. She and Nigel discuss the following:

  • Bonnie’s current role leading BC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • What she learnt from the 2003 SARS outbreak and how this experience and knowledge can be applied to the current pandemic such as the importance of contact tracing, managing outbreaks and the importance of communicating with the public
  • The role COVID-19 vaccines will play in Canada and challenges that will need to be faced such as logistics, ensuring adequate safety profiles, determining priority groups to be immunised first and protecting indigenous communities
  • The critical importance of monitoring for adverse events following immunisation


You can listen to the episode here: