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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – North Peace vaccine rates are still the lowest in the province, but we’re moving in the right direction, according to MLA Dan Davies and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

When concerns started emerging surrounding low vaccine rates in the North Peace, Davies said he got a phone call from Minister Dix. Following the conversation, Davies went to all the pharmacies in the city and the Totem Mall clinic to see if residents weren’t getting their vaccinations.

“[The pharmacies said], as soon as we get it, it’s gone. Everybody comes in,” said Davies. “[The Northern Health Clinic said], no, we’re full out. We don’t have the capacity.  I mean, when I was down there, they said they could use another clinic equally sized to what they had at the mall. ”

From Davies’ Sherlock Holmes-like investigation, he says the problem isn’t hesitancy, it’s capacity, accessibility, and the slow immunization start in the Peace Region.

“We were out of the gate slowly, which is the unfortunate part, which is put us behind. So we’re behind the rest of the province.”

The BC CDC vaccine coverage map shows the Peace Region has been trailing the rest of the province, however, Dix said Wednesday that 51.6 per cent of people in the North Peace had received their first vaccine dose. The health minister called this an “excellent milestone.”

The updated vaccine rate comes after the drive-thru clinic that saw 1,306 residents receive their vaccine in Fort St. John. Around 500 first doses and 800 second doses were given out at the pop-up clinic.

As of June 14th,  Peace River North had a vaccine rate of 47 per cent for residents 12 and older, 50 per cent for adults, and 66 per cent for 50 and older.

Fort St. John can’t be compared to Victoria and Nanaimo, Davies told Dix. Fort St. John is a resource town that can’t always head into a clinic between normal hours, said Davies.

“That doesn’t work for most people that work in the sector. We’re looking at adding evening dates and everything else to try and improve accessibility to get in the vaccine,” said Davies.

“We got to make sure we’re comparing apples to apples. We just need to encourage people. It’s important to get it. We’ve seen how important it is.”

Davies and Dix, during a joint conference on Wednesday, confirmed that Fort St. John and area have shot above the provincial average over the past couple of days.

“Since we’ve been doing the drive-thrus,’ said Davies. “Our rate has actually exceeded the provincial average. That’s why we’re excited. We’re on the right path.”

Dix said mass vaccination clinics will have an expiry date as the province looks towards pharmacies and family doctors to begin administering shots in the fall.

Dawson Creek Drive-thru clinics will run from June 17th to 19th, and 21st to 22nd at the Memorial Arena.

The First Nations Health Authority has opened a clinic at the Festival Plaza in Fort St. John. The clinic is open from June 15 to 17 providing Moderna vaccinations to indigenous, Métis, and Inuit people living in the city and surrounding area.

Walk-ins are accepted at the clinic, or people can register for an appointment by calling 1-833-384-4001.

The following mass vaccination clinics are being offered through Northern Health for everyone aged 12 and older:

 

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