Saturday August 21, 2021 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC [Updated 11:25 pm]
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends
The inevitable shift in vaccination delivery strategy is nigh.
After eight months of intense work to immunize as many people as possible against COVID-19, Island Health is preparing to scale back mass immunization clinics.
But yesterday Island Health emphasized that this will not be done before making it easier than ever to be fully vaccinated.
“For maximum convenience, anyone in need of vaccination can simply find a nearby clinic and walk in without an appointment for their first or second dose,” it was stated in an Island Health news release on August 20.
“Appointments are also readily available for people who prefer that option, and expert immunizers are ready and willing to support anyone who needs extra time or accommodation during their appointment.”
“The COVID-19 immunization effort in Island Health and across the province has been a monumental undertaking,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer.
“Thanks to the exceptional dedication of Island Health staff and physicians, the unwavering support of community partners and, most importantly, each individual’s commitment to protecting themselves and others from infection, we can start looking beyond the mass immunization effort.”
A few months ago, Dr Stanwick said he prefers that the idea of bumping elbows continues forward after the pandemic, replacing the long-standing handshake and the preference over hugs.
As of August 19, 81% of eligible Island Health residents had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 74% are fully vaccinated with two doses, says Island Health. Of the total administered vaccines in Island Health, 72.4% have been Pfizer-BioNTech, 24.9% Moderna, and 2.7% AstraZeneca.
Entering the fourth wave:
The Delta variant of the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) virus is surging within the province’s case profile. Overall case numbers have been on the rise since the last week of July. Based on this direction of things, yesterday Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry said that the proposed date of September 7 to ease restrictions (Step 4) won’t be happening. Continued mask-wearing, physical distancing, careful hand washing, and staying home if sick will be needed for a while longer.
At present there are 391 active cases of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island (total 5,853 pandemic to date), with 54 new just yesterday (August 20). Currently eight people are in hospital due to COVID (five of those in ICU); a total of 268 people have been hospitalized with COVID infection during the pandemic to date. To date, 42 people have died in Island Health due to COVID.
Across BC there are 6,345 active cases. The greatest surge is happening in the BC Interior region due to transmission among younger adults who’ve not been fully vaccinated and the dislocation of communities during the multi-week wildfire emergency.
The age-based immunization program in BC (starting with the eldest and descending from there) left young adults to last. Even teens got in the door of immunization clinics before people age 19 to 30, even though young adults would naturally have the most active social contact.
Spectrum of clinics and approaches:
The immunization effort to date has included large-scale clinics, on-site vaccinations at long-term care and assisted living residences, outreach for people experiencing homelessness, partner-supported clinics for refugees, whole community clinics in rural and remote locations, in-home vaccination for home-bound people and outbreak responses.
Less need for high-volume mass clinics:
As the number of fully vaccinated people increases, there is less need to maintain high-volume mass immunization clinics. There are currently mass immunization clinics operating in communities from Victoria to Campbell River that will close between August 22 and September 30.
Anyone in need of first and second doses after the large clinics close will be able to receive their vaccine at other, smaller locations outlined below.
“There is absolutely no doubt that vaccination is protecting people from serious illness,” said Dr. Stanwick. “While we’re seeing excellent progress with vaccination rates, there is still work to be done. Please, if you haven’t received your first dose, or if you have been delaying your second dose, now is the time to get it done and ensure we go into the fall with the best possible protection against COVID-19.”
Mass clinic transition schedule (2021):
South Vancouver Island / Greater Victoria area:
- Archie Browning Sports Centre (Esquimalt) | closes Monday Aug 22
- Victoria Conference Centre | continues until Sept 30, then shifts to Victoria Health Unit, 1947 Cook St
- Victoria Native Friendship Centre | continues until Sept 30
- Eagle Ridge Community Centre (Langford) | continues until Sunday Aug 29, then shifts to Westshore Town Centre (Unit 174 – inside the mall, across from Winners), 2945 Jacklin Road.
- Mary Winspear Centre (Sidney) | closes Monday Aug 22.
- SEAPARC Leisure Complex (Sooke) | continues until Sunday Sept 26, then shifts to leased space at 1180-6660 Sooke Road (adjacent to medical clinic, in the Evergreen Shopping Centre).
Other island locations:
PORT ALBERNI – WEST COAST
- Port Alberni Friendship Centre | Completed | new location: Port Alberni Branch Office Health Unit, 202-4152 Redford Street
- Port Alberni Athletic Hall | Completes on Mon Auguest 22 | 4 new locations: Port Alberni Branch Office Health Unit, 202-4152 Redford Street; Bamfield Community Health Unit, 353 Bamfield Road; Ucluelet Community Centre, 500 Matterson Drive (intermittent clinic); Tofino Coastal Family Practice, 265 First Street.
- Cowichan Community Centre Gym | completes on September 26, then shifts to Cowichan Community Centre (smaller space than current mass clinic), 2687 James Street
- Lake Cowichan Public Health Unit, 58 W Cowichan Avenue (Kaatza building)
NANAIMO & AREA
- Aggie Hall, Ladysmith | Completed, shifts to Beban Park, 2300 Bowen Road (smaller than current clinic)
- Cedar Community Hall, Nanaimo | completes on August 22, shifts to Beban Park (current mass clinic)
- Beban Park | current mass clinic to August 26, then becomes smaller.
SALT SPRING ISLAND
- Art Spring, Salt Spring Island | Completed | Shifting to Salt Spring Island Health Unit, 160 Fulford-Ganges Road
- Parksville Community Hall | completes on September 6, shifts to Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, 747 Jones Street
COMOX VALLEY & AREA
- Florence Filberg Centre, Courtenay | completes on September 12, then shifts to Comox Valley BC Assessment Building, 2488 Ideiens Way
CAMPBELL RIVER & AREA
- Campbell River Community Centre | completes on September 26, then shifts to Campbell River Health Unit, 200-1100 Island Highway
- Port Hardy Health Unit, 7070 Market Street
- Port McNeill Health Unit, 1775 Grenville Place
About clinic operations:
- Hours, days of operation and opening dates for new/replacement sites are still being finalized. Information will be updated here as details are confirmed. Please check back before attending a site.
- All clinic locations will continue to accept walk-ins for first and second doses. Please ensure you bring your Personal Health Number. Appointments will also be available for those who prefer that option. If you would like to make an appointment please visit www.getvaccinvated.gov.bc.ca or call 1-833-838-2323.
GETTING VACCINATED IN ISLAND HEALTH
- Walk-in to any mass immunization clinic and get your first or second dose without an appointment. Find a list of clinic locations here.
- Whole community clinics will take place in August in rural and remote communities. Watch for local advertising or check the Whole Community section of Island Health’s website to find out when your local clinic will be held.
- Watch for the Island Health mobile Vax Van at a park or community location near you and get your first dose there. Find information about upcoming locations online at http://www.islandhealth.ca/learn-about-health/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine.
If you would like to make an appointment please visit www.getvaccinvated.gov.bc.ca or call 1-833-838-2323.