Drive-thru vaccine clinic opening in FSJ

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Northern Health is conducting a drive-thru clinic in Fort St. John to continue improving…

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Northern Health is conducting a drive-thru clinic in Fort St. John to continue improving vaccine coverage in the north.

Northeast Chief Operating Officer, Angela De Smit, says the health authority is looking to increase the number of people that can be vaccinated now that supplies are no longer a major issue.

“The province is sending us additional resources so that we have more immunizers to be looking at both increasing the number of people allowed at the Totem Mall mass clinic, but also to split some off and be able to offer some of these other options,” says De Smit.

The drive-thru clinic will run June 10-12 and June 14-15 at the North Peace Arena parking lot. The clinic will run from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

Registration is encouraged, but not required. Anyone that doesn’t register before arriving at the clinic will get a QR code that will be used to sign up while waiting in line.

“We’re looking to have probably two different lines. One will be if you’re by yourself,  you’re riding a bicycle, or you’re doing a walk up. The second one will be if you’ve decided to bring all your family or your friends with you.”

A waiting area will be designated for the 15 minute post-monitoring period in the parking lot.

De Smit says Fort St. John will be the first city in the northeast to receive this type of clinic.

Northern Health has also been in contact with Totem Mall representatives to extend clinic hours. If approved, the clinic’s “flow” will need to be changed as those who have received their vaccine are asked to exit through the mall, says De Smit.

“There are lots of different opportunities. We’re even looking at the potential for some pop-ups or drop-ins in different areas. I think we have four immunizers that the province has committed to sending up,” says De Smit.”Between Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, it works out to about seven immunizers just to help us get our rates up because that’s been one of our biggest challenges is just trying to get sufficient immunizers.”

Northern Health put a call out for more immunizers Tuesday and encourages health care providers to join the team.

The health authority is starting to give second doses in communities and needs more immunizers to increase vaccinations, says Northern Health.

“If we don’t get our rates up closer to the 80 per cent, we are not going to be able to open up,” says De Smit.

With the number of kids aged 12 to 17 and seniors receiving their shots, De Smit is optimistic about restrictions beginning to be lifted soon. She says the focus is now on the “middle group” by creating more opportunities, such as the drive-thru clinic.

Northeast adult vaccination rates are up, as of June 3rd, with the North Peace at 46 per cent, the South Peace at 49 per cent, and Fort Nelson is at 50 per cent.

FSJ and Dawson Creek clinics are running until June 11th and June 15th and 18th. Walk-ins are also being accepted with limited space available.

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