PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – Dr. Bonnie Henry is wondering where northern B.C. residents would like to see pop-up vaccine clinics.
The provincial health officer asked residents to submit their idea to their local health authority during Tuesday’s COVID-19 update.
Henry repeated what Adrian Dix and MLA Dan Davies told Fort St. John media last week— low vaccination rates in the northeast is an accessibility problem.
“We know in the northeast there is a number of smaller communities spread out in rural areas where it’s more challenging for people to get into an immunization clinic, and we’ve had challenges with teams and staffing and being able to get everywhere in the north,” said Henry.
She says health officials would like to hear about what different events and gatherings could host the clinics, such as farmers’ markets.
“We can bring the vaccine to those who need it and who haven’t had a chance yet.”
During Tuesday’s update, Dix said most communities in the north are over the 50 per cent vaccination rate. Over 75 per cent of British Columbians 12 and older have received their first jab as of Tuesday.
During the update, Dix said vaccine rates are at 50 per cent in Dawson Creek, 54 per cent in Fort St. John, and 60 per cent in Tumbler Ridge.
According to the BC CDC on Monday, the vaccination rates for residents 12 and older were 49 per cent in both the North Peace and South Peace.
“I think we are making some progress,” said Dix
Despite the northeast trailing behind the rest of the province, Henry says they’re sticking to the ” carrot versus stick approach” for regions with low vaccine rates.
“It is about encouragement, answering questions and making sure they have confidence in vaccines that we have and what we’ve seen over and over again is access – taking away barriers for access to vaccines, making it convenient for people. That goes a long way for people in many, many communities,’ said Henry.
Henry also announced Tuesday that the province has surpassed one million residents with both COVID-19 vaccine doses.
As of Tuesday, 1,001,192 British Columbians have been vaccinated with both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Immunization has changed the game for us. It will no longer be a pandemic, it’s part of us being able to live with this virus, and not have it affect our lives the way it has so much.”