FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – City council has agreed to waive booking fees for Northern Health to host multiple COVID-19 vaccine clinics at the Pomeroy Sport Centre.

The decision to waive just under $10,000  in meeting room fees was made by council on Monday so the health authority can host the clinics from January through April.

“This is an opportunity to provide a venue for vaccination clinics as we try to support Northern Health to increase the vaccination rate within the region by making vaccination opportunities convenient and accessible,” said CAO Milo MacDonald in the January 24th report for council.

Clinics previously held at the sport centre and festival plaza helped Northern Health reach their 80 per cent goal for 1st dose vaccination rates in Fort St. John by December 2021, the report states.

“Current vaccination data indicates that 82 per cent of Fort St. John residents have received their first dose, 76 per cent have received their second, and only 18 per cent have received their third “booster” dose, which is a very low percentage compared to the provincial average of 90 per cent.”

With the surge in hospitalizations due to the Omicron variant, the health authority is looking to create opportunities for vaccinations in the city to prevent the Fort St. John hospital from being overcapacity.

“It can also prevent businesses from having to close while workers are sick and keep the community safe.”

The report says over 4,500 booster invitations were sent to residents.

Northern Health moved its Fort St. John vaccination clinic back to Totem Mall on January 15th to provide more space for residents looking to book an appointment or walk-in for their shot.

“The opportunity to partner with the City will help absorb the volume increase anticipated as invitations continue to go out to the community.” the report reads.

The proposed clinics will run five days at a time, and three clinics are anticipated between January and April.