Prince Rupert and Port Edwards residents will start receiving vaccinations on March 15. Sylvia, a long-term care resident at Mountainview Lodge in Kitimat was among those who got the COVID-19 immunization at the vaccination clinic on Jan. 21.(Photo: Northern Health)

Prince Rupert and Port Edwards residents will start receiving vaccinations on March 15. Sylvia, a long-term care resident at Mountainview Lodge in Kitimat was among those who got the COVID-19 immunization at the vaccination clinic on Jan. 21.(Photo: Northern Health)

Patience is requested by Northern Health with the designated COVID-19 phone line

Variety of areas where ‘whole-community’ approach is being taken to vaccine eligibility - Eryn Collins

Prince Rupert and Port Edward residents are being asked on March 10, to assist Northern Health to ensure smooth operations of the specifically designated phone line and the appointment booking process for the COVID-19 community immunization program. The health authority also wants residents to know there is plenty of vaccine to go around and no one will miss out.

As previously reported in The Northern View on March 9 Northern Health, the Ministry of Health and the Provincial Health Officer have jointly approved a whole-community approach to immunizing residents of Prince Rupert and area for COVID-19, as the community continues to see high transmission, clusters and outbreaks of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert and Port Ed to receive COVID-19 vaccinations starting March 15

There are a variety of communities, not only in the north, where a ‘whole-community’ approach is being taken to vaccine eligibility,” Eryn Collins communications manager for Northern Health, said.

Anyone who wants to be immunized will be, and the program in the Prince Rupert area is not diminishing vaccine supply from other areas or residents in need, such as rural communities, senior citizens or those with compromised immune systems.

As in the case of Prince Rupert, the decision to initiate a community immunization program was based on a combination of factors, such as population size, remoteness, accessibility – and these can be expanded to address outbreaks, clusters or high population incidence rates, such as in the area, Collins said.

“As Dr. Henry alluded to earlier this week, B.C. is receiving increasing supplies of vaccine, which is allowing the province to focus on areas where there are ongoing transmission or outbreak concerns, in addition to the provincial rollout based on age ranges.”

“Everyone living in B.C. who is eligible and wants to receive the vaccine will be able to get it, and nobody will miss their opportunity to be immunized,” Collins re-iterated.

“Northern Health is working to ensure smooth operations of the call centre, and that there are enough staff and available incoming lines to handle expected call volumes – but we need Prince Rupert residents’ help,” Northern Health stated on March 11.

“Please call only after your age group becomes eligible to make an appointment, as per the schedule …”

Northern Health is asking for understanding and stated that call volumes are expected to be highest when the call centre first opens on March 12. Residents are asked where possible, to please call later in the day.

“Please be patient; everyone in Prince Rupert who wants and needs an appointment, will get one,” the health authority said.

“Telecommunications providers in Prince Rupert have worked very hard to prioritize access to this toll-free number and to increase system capacity, and Northern Health greatly appreciates this support.”

Starting on March 12 residents of Prince Rupert and nearby Port Edward can call designated 1-866-481-2175 to book an appointment for COVID-19 immunization. Clinics will begin on March 15, 2021. Appointment bookings will be staggered by age group.

The phone number is unique for Prince Rupert and Port Edward residents to book vaccine appointments and will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

K-J Millar | Journalist 
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