Hundreds more COVID-19 vaccine shots are expected to be given out to Indigenous people living in and around Calgary this week, as part of a second immunization clinic tailored to that population in the city.
Roughly 160 people a day are expected to get their vaccines at the clinic, which opened Wednesday at the Best Western Premier hotel in northeast Calgary.
The clinic is the second of its kind to run in the city. The first, set up last month at the Circle of Wisdom, saw about 20 Indigenous people living in the urban Calgary area each day for the couple of weeks it was open.
The second clinic will run for eight days, and is being made possible by dozens of volunteers, from Siksika First Nation providing outdoor tents for waiting and people to direct traffic, to pharmacists giving their time to administer shots, to students working inside the clinic on things like data entry.
“The end goal is to get as many shots in the arms as possible, and one way to do that is remove barriers,” Siksika Nation Chief Ouray Crowfoot said.
Crowfoot said people tend to feel safer and more comfortable coming to these tailored clinics rather than other locations that are open to the general population.
“A lot of people that have that apprehension of coming into a clinic and going in to get vaccinated, we reduce some of that stress, some of that apprehension by having an environment they’re familiar with,” he said.
The newest clinic doesn’t have the same level of personal and cultural touches as the first, because of its size, however inside the clinic, organizers have done what they can to ensure people recognize elements of their lifestyle and traditions when they go.
Organizers said both the success of the first clinic, as well as the Alberta government’s expansion of the vaccine rollout in the province led to the launch of the second, larger clinic.
The clinic will run for eight days, and patients will receive doses of the Moderna shot.
Organizers expect to run more clinics in the city in the future, as vaccine continues to be made available to more of the population.