Rural and remote communities in the Interior Health region will see a less age-based approach to COVID-19 vaccinations than the bigger cities.
Interior Health has released a vaccination schedule for more than 40 communities in the region where people 18 years of age and older will be able to receive their shot.
On Wednesday, residents who lived in Sicamous and were 60 years of age or older were given their vaccination.
“We looked at specific communities that are small and that are a little bit isolated and don’t necessarily have as much medical care,” Interior Health chief medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers said.
“It doesn’t really help going in and doing all the 90-year-olds and then all the 80-year-olds because there might only be 10 of each.
“It’s just easier to do the whole community at the same time.”
De Villiers acknowledged that the system means younger people in small communities might get vaccinated before some seniors.
“It’s just the practicality of it,” he said. “Eventually everybody is going to get their vaccine.”
If residents aren’t able to book an appointment the first time, DeVilliers recommended that they keep trying.
“You’re going to stay eligible forever now basically,” he said.
Sicamous resident Joan Chafe said she was thrilled that Interior Health was vaccinating people that were 60 and older in the community on the first day of the clinic.
“I think it’s great that small communities are getting it fairly quickly,” she said. “And we are a tourist town, so we have lots of people that come in, regardless of restrictions some of the time, so I’m very, very happy.”
Most of Interior Health’s clinics for smaller communities are scheduled for April.
People hoping to get their shot will be expected to provide identification to prove they live in the region and should phone in advance for an appointment.
De Villiers said Interior Health has administered more than 80,000 vaccine doses so far.
“And that’s good news. We’re averaging I think around 2,500 to 2,600 a day currently and the numbers are steadily increasing as we get more vaccine we’ll be able to increase that as well.”