Vaccine rollout begins among Kelowna homeless population

Interior Health has begun vaccinating residents of homeless shelters in Kelowna. Global News

Interior Health has begun vaccinating Kelowna’s homeless population.

On Thursday morning, IHA staff started administering the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to shelter residents and staff, including the Gospel Mission.

“We are really, really thankful that this is happening,” Gospel Mission executive director Carmen Rempel told Global News. “It’s an exciting day.”

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It’s not known how many doses are being administered, but Rempel believes it’s several dozen.

“They are showing up with about 50 doses to our Leon shelter. I believe we have just over a dozen at the Doyle shelter this morning,” Rempel said.

Kelowna shelters have managed to avoid an outbreak of COVID-19.

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“So far, we’ve been untouched and we have not experienced a COVID outbreak,” said Rempel, who calls it an extraordinary accomplishment.

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“We’ve always operated with an understanding that, you know, we’re going to do everything we can and we will do our utmost to protect people, use all the protocols, but it’s probably a matter of when not if we get a COVID exposure at the shelter,” she said.

“If that exposure happened, it could just have a potential to spread like wildfire.”

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Rempel said the vaccine rollout at shelters will provide a safer living environment for some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

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“This is critical, because we have people living in a high-density environment, who are incredibly vulnerable to COVID,” Rempel said.

“So we’re very excited to able to start vaccinating this population and creating a safe environment for everybody to live in.”

Global News has reached out to Interior Health for more information about the vaccination rollout at homeless shelters.

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