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What you need to know as B.C. opens COVID-19 vaccine bookings for people over 90 on Monday

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s mass COVID-19 immunization plan begins Monday' B.C.’s mass COVID-19 immunization plan begins Monday
B.C. will begin accepting appointments on Monday for COVID-19 vaccines for people over age 90 and Indigenous people over 65 in what marks the beginning of the province's mass vaccination plan - and the first time seniors outside of long-term care will get access to the vaccines. Grace Ke reports – Mar 7, 2021

B.C. will begin accepting appointments for COVID-19 vaccines for people over the age of 90 and Indigenous people over the age of 65 on Monday.

It marks the beginning of the province’s mass vaccination plan, and the first time seniors outside of long-term care will get access to the vaccines.

On Sunday, health authorities around the province unveiled region-specific details on how to make those appointments. The qualified seniors will begin to get their shots March 15.

Read more: Dentists, teachers, bus drivers want Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in B.C.

Bookings for seniors aged 85 and up will open on March 15, while bookings for seniors 80 and older will open March 22.

Health officials are urging people who are not in the eligible age cohort — in this case, anyone born after 1931 — not to call in this week.

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Some health authorities are taking appointments by phone only while others will also use an online portal. Friends and family members of people signing up for bookings are urged to help them if they may have difficulties with the process.

When making a booking, callers will need to have their legal name, date of birth, postal code and personal health number on hand.

They’re also asked to have their own contact information handy, along with a pen and paper to write information on.

This phase of vaccinations (Phase 2) will only be for the first dose, likely of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and people will not be able to choose which vaccine they get.

People will be contacted when they are eligible to receive the second dose.

Seniors who are not fluent in English can find translated information about the vaccine plan here.

Here’s how the plan will roll out in B.C.’s five health authorities.

Fraser Health

B.C.’s most populous health region will operate 22 vaccination clinics across the region, five of which will be drive-through. It will also operate a mobile vaccine distribution for people who require home support.

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You can see a list of clinic locations here.

Fraser Health president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee said the officials expect to be able to administer up to 9,000 vaccines a day. That capacity is expected to climb to more than 23,000 vaccinations per day by Phase 3 of the vaccine rollout.

Read more: B.C. to prioritize COVID-19 outbreaks and clusters with first doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

Lee said officials will be monitoring demand and are able to adjust the capacity of individual clinics where needed.

Patients will be able to be vaccinated at the location closest to their home or choose another site if it is more convenient for other reasons.

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Fraser Health is taking bookings online 24 hours a day, or by phone from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. starting Monday.

Translation services will be available on the phone and at clinic sites.

You can book online here, or call 1-855-755-2455.

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Vancouver Coastal Health

Vancouver Coastal Health will operate 25 COVID-19 vaccine clinics across the region, using community centres, friendship centres, seniors centres, cultural centres and other regional sites.

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You can see clinic locations here.

Clinics will operate in Vancouver, Richmond, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast, Powell River, Squamish and Pemberton.

Starting Monday, seniors over the age of 90 who live in Richmond, Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver will be able to phone in to book an appointment.

Seniors who live on the Sunshine Coast, in Powell River, Whistler, Squamish or Pemberton who are over the age of 80 will also be able to call in on Monday.

Read more: As COVID-19 vaccine efforts ramp up, advice on how to deal with a fear of needles

Indigenous seniors 65-years-old or older can also book appointments starting Monday.

“We are hopeful that people will be patient if they aren’t able to get through,” Bob Chapman, Vancouver Coastal health Interim vice-president for the Vancouver community, told Global News.

“We know there is lots of excitement about being able to get vaccines and we know there is also anticipation, so people will probably be anxious to call right away. We are asking people if they get a message that they are being asked to please call back to have some patients and call back a little bit later in the day.”

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Clinics will open March 15 and offer shots seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with evening bookings available in some locations.

Dedicated sites have also been designated for Indigenous peoples, that will offer vaccines in a culturally safe environment.

Read more: Coronavirus: City of Vernon to use rec centre to help North Okanagan vaccination efforts

Vancouver Coastal Health is not offering online bookings.

The call centre will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week at 1-877-587-5767.

It will have interpreters on hand who speak Mandarin and Cantonese, and has access to a translation service covering an additional 240 languages.

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Interior Health

Interior Health will open bookings for seniors older than 90 and Indigenous seniors over the age of 65 on Monday.

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The health authority will operate clinics in 47 locations across the southern interior. You can see a full list here.

The clinics will be held at arenas, curling clubs, community halls, colleges, convention centres and health centres.

Read more: Interior Health releases locations of 48 mass COVID-19 immunization clinics

Interior Health says immunization clinic locations will be confirmed at the time of booking, with vaccinations starting as early as March 15.

Callers are reminded to be vigilant of fraud and that the health authority will never ask for financial information or a social insurance number.

The call centre will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 1-877-740-7747.

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Island Health

Island Health will operate COVID-19 vaccine clinics in 19 communities and expects to administer about 40,000 shots in the next month.

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You can view a complete list of clinic locations here.

The health authority says about 30 small or remote communities that don’t have a clinic listed will be vaccinated in a “whole community” approach, which may see all adults living there given the opportunity for a shot during a single visit.

If that whole-community clinic isn’t scheduled before April 12, seniors over the age of 80 will be able to get vaccinated earlier and are advised to call the hotline below during the week their age group is eligible to make a booking.

Read more: Questions surround B.C.’s decision to extend the gap between COVID-19 vaccine doses

The health authority said it tried to ensure that in urban areas, travel time to the clinics was no more than 15 minutes, and to keep them near transit and transportation routes.

Vaccines will also be offered at some Friendship Centres, including in Victoria, Port Hardy and Port Alberni, with a focus on ensuring Indigenous people can get immunized in a culturally safe environment.

Island Health is not offering online bookings.

Seniors aged 90 and up, or Indigenous seniors aged 65 and over will be able to make an appointment from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week at 1-833-348-4787.

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Northern Health

Northern Health will operate 30 vaccine clinics across northern and central British Columbia and aims to immunize 15,000 people by April 10. New mass clinics are scheduled to open mid-April.

Locations for the Phase 2 clinics will include health-care facilities, schools, colleges and conference and events centres.

Bookings will open for seniors over the age of 90 or Indigenous seniors over the age of 65 at 7 a.m. Monday.

In some communities, the age bracket will expand on March 10, while eligibility and directions may vary for other communities due to the complexity of northern geography.

You can see the details for your individual community here.

The health authority says it is working with Indigenous groups and the First Nations Health Authority to ensure cultural supports are available.

The call centre will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, at 1-844-255-7555.

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