More than 300 Prince Rupert and Port Edward residents were expected to be vaccinated at the soft-launch of the community COVID-19 vaccination clinic held on March 14 at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, Julia Pemberton health services administrator in Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii for Northern Health, said.
The immunization clinic has the capacity to administer more than 1,000 vaccinations per day starting on March 15, Pemberton told The Northern View.
Pemberton said there will be a combined approach using both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Northern Health has more than 2000 doses of Pfizer currently in stock, with 4000 doses of Moderna to support the clinic on its way to create the 9,000 to 10,000 doses required.
“We will not be using AstraZeneca or Johnson and Johnson vaccines,” Pemberton said.
It is calculated that 4,300 vaccines will be required in the 40 to 59 age group, with 3,900 in the 18 to 39 range, and less than 2,000 in the senior’s age grouping. Northern Health is expecting a 90 per cent uptake on those wishing to have a vaccination.
Pemberton said she wanted to stress to the community that the most important thing people need to realize is after receiving a vaccine that it does not offer any immunity until 14 days later.
“So everybody needs to be strongly encouraged to continue safe practices like social distancing, wearing a mask and washing their hands for 14 days and beyond,” she said.
More than 40 community volunteers per day will assist Northern Health medical staff and nurses in up to four shifts each day during the 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. clinic times. The telephone booking lines are manned by a staff of 60 people to book appointments from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.
The landscape of the vaccine distribution is constantly and quickly evolving for needs progression, Pemberton said.
More people are being encouraged to call as bookings are now being “frontloaded” by the call centre. She wants to clarify any confusion, as there may be some with the quickly changing procedures, to process as many as possible.
“What people are going to see is they’re going to see a discrepancy between our social media presence and the print material. This is just due to timelines to get things approved and printed.”
Originally the clinics were planned with just Prince Rupert Nursing resources, however, the Centre for Disease Control sent eight nurses and one supervisor yesterday from the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team, Pemberton said. This is what enabled Northern Health to extend the hours of the clinic and the capacity for daily vaccinations. The team of nurses will be swapped out next week with a new crew of eight.
A recent change that occurred on March 12 (Friday), many will not know about yet is the eligibility for a vaccine if a person has tested positive for COVID-19, the health administrator said. The three-month suggested waiting period has been removed. So, once fully recovered and showing no symptoms, people can call to book an appointment.
“And then the other thing is, if they’ve missed this campaign, for some reason, there will be a vaccine available through the health unit — so it’s not now or never. People will be able to book appointments. We’re hoping that it will be more like a regular workflow, just like the flu.
More people are now being encouraged to call to book for their shot.
“They’ve been trying to encourage more people to call. So we are going to see a mix of ages (obtaining vaccines) because they are front-loading the bookings. So they’re booking before they (the age groups) start. So so we will see some age differences,” said Pemberton.
“We’re making sure that we have space and vaccine for everybody,” she said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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