Mass COVID-19 vaccinations proceed in Fort St John

Mass vaccinations against COVID-19 began Monday in Fort St. John and will continue through the rest of this month.

Northern Health Community Service Manager Sherrry Sawka says the clinic running at the old Mark’s store at Totem Mall is going smoothly.

“We’ve got more immunizers today, taking on an increased load. It went really well yesterday,” said Sawka, noting the clinic was slated for 130 patients on opening day, but took on 180.

Five immunizers are on staff today, delivering vaccine shots to residents age 60 and older. Shots are also available for indigenous people age 18 and older. Fifty volunteers have signed up for this week’s rollout of the vaccines.

“Volunteers are still here, and we have the First Nations Health Authority assisting, which is great,” said Sawka. “What we’re seeing now is the booked appointments, the double booking has reduced. Patients are all excited and happy, they want to have their injection, so we’re able to provide that.”

The clinic is open to April 16 this week, and again April 20 to 23 and April 27 to 30.

Overbooking problems

There has been some concern from residents that appointments scheduled this week were cancelled and rescheduled for later this month.

Northern Health spokesperson Eryn Collins call it a “technical challenge” when the health authority was moving to the provincial registration and booking system.

“A number of people were overbooked. Those people are being contacted in order to rebook their appointments, and we apologize for the confusion and inconvenience,” Collins said.

Collins said the health authority encourages anyone who is eligible for a vaccine to register in advance so that they can be notified when they can book an appointment.

“This will help us best understand who is eligible and wants to be immunized in the coming weeks and months, and to book clinics at maximum capacity, including if or when we need to accelerate our approach by moving to book appointments in the next eligible age increments to ensure keep clinics full,” Collins said.

Pharmacies await deliveries

Meanwhile, Fort St. John pharmacies are continuing to await delivery of their AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, expected to arrive this week and available for residents age 55 and up.

Vaccinations at all pharmacies are subject to availability and eligibility.

Upcoming clinics

Northern Health says appointments will take about 10 minutes, and patients will be asked to wait 15 minutes after receiving their shots before leaving.

Other Northern Health clinic dates are as follows:

  • Dawson Creek – April 13 to 16, April 20 to 23, and April 27 to 30, for seniors 64 years and older, and indigenous peoples 18 years and older. Clinics will be held at Co-op Mercer Hall at the Encana Events Centre. Call 1-833-838-2323 to book.

  • Chetwynd – April 6 to 9, April 20 to 23, and May 4 to 7 for all community members 18 years and older. Clinics will be held at the Legion. Call 1-866-481-2175 to book.

  • Hudson’s Hope – April 6 to 10, for all community members 18 years and older. Clinics will be held at the health centre. Call 1-866-481-2175 to book.

  • Tumbler Ridge – April 12 to 16 and April 27 to 30, for all community members 18 years and older. Clinics will be held at the rec centre. Call 1-866-481-2175 to book.

  • Fort Nelson – April 14 to 15 and May 11 to 14, for all community members 18 years and older. Clinics will be held at the rec centre. Call 1-866-481-2175 to book.

— with files from Tom Summer, Matt Preprost

Email reporter Tom Summer at [email protected]

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