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COVID-19: Interior Health asking residents to register for vaccine shots

Interior Health says more than 365,000 people in B.C. have received a vaccine dose. Eloise Therien / Global News

Register, register, register.

That was the vaccination message Interior Health officials pushed during a media call on Friday afternoon.

According to Interior Health, the region’s immunization plan began early in the year with those most at risk, but will soon include people 18 and over.

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“Since then, we have continued with the approach and we do see that it’s working,” said Karen Bloemink, Interior Health’s interim vice-president of pandemic response.

“We saw some of that in the provincial briefing (on Thursday), both in our long-term care and in our community. And we do know there’s been great uptake of the vaccine amongst our seniors and people who are older in our population.”

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Bloemink said Interior Health is on pace with the province’s overall percentage of people who have been immunized.

She said 365,000 people who are eligible to be immunized have been vaccinated, adding that’s over 50 per cent of Interior Health’s eligible population.

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“This brings me to our challenge, which is to encourage the remainder of our eligible citizens to register and make their appointments to receive the vaccine,” said Bloemink.

“And just to be clear: Registration is just the first step, and that’s what we’re asking people to do. It’s a very simple and short process.”

On Sunday, Interior Health will begin booking appointments for residents aged 18 and over. The health agency added that it’s aiming at an approximate two-week timeline after residents call to make an appointment.

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Provincially, 2.335 million doses have been administered across B.C.

Interior Health’s chief medical officer, Dr. Albert de Villiers, echoed Bloemink’s vaccination messaging, noting volumes have increased significantly within the region.

De Villiers noted he’ll be receiving his vaccination dose on Saturday and will get it at the same time his wife does.

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He also said some people have asked him if they could refrain from getting the Astra-Zeneca shot following reports of blot clotting.

“My message to them is the same as it’s been is ‘Your first dose is the best dose that you can get.’ So go and get whichever vaccine you can get, either at one of the pharmacies or one of our clinics,” de Villiers said.

He continued, saying “Astra-Zeneca is still an excellent vaccine, and it’s a very helpful tool in our toolbox against the pandemic currently.”

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Asked about vaccination pushback, de Villiers said “it’s the same group of people who march because they don’t want to wear masks. They don’t want to take the vaccine either.”

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He continued, saying it’s a small minority of the population and contrasted it to the 70-and-over age bracket and its nearly 80 per cent vaccination rate.

“There’s maybe 5-10 per cent population, maybe sometimes less as well, that is actively against the vaccine,” he said. “Most of the population understands ‘Yes, this is an important thing to do and it’s an important vaccine to get.’”

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