After seeing success in rural and remote communities, Interior Health is bringing mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics to urban neighbourhoods in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon, Penticton, and Salmon Arm starting next week.
The first shot drop-in clinics are targeting B.C. communities where immunization uptake has been low or slow.
Health officials confirm 76.5 per cent of all adults in the province and 74.8 per cent of those aged 12 and older have now received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Dozens lined up at Grand Forks City Park Saturday morning for the first of two days of drop-in vaccinations.
While the mobile immunization clinic was advertised for people 12 and older who have not received their first dose, many of the vaccine seekers Global News spoke with said they were getting their second dose.
“We just want to get it so we can start living again,” said one woman who was in line with a friend.
“This is fantastic — it gets people out, gets them vaccinated and we can carry on with our lives,” added a man who told his family and friends to come get the shot after learning he was a few days short of the 8-12 week interval suggested between doses.
Data from the BC Centre for Disease Control revealed that Grand Forks had the highest transmission rate in the province by local health area from June 4 to 10, with an average of 13 new cases daily for every 100,000 people.
The latest numbers from June 11 to 17 show the city has now cut its average daily case rate down to one new case for every 100,000 people.
While some appeared to be taking advantage of the clinics to get their second jab, doctors say the mobile vaccination push is about getting supply to those who, for whatever reason, haven’t yet taken their first shot at immunity.
“For some of those people we know that it might be an accessibility issue or it might be a complacency issue. It might be a convenience issue,” said Dr. Birinder Narang, a UBC clinical instructor with the Department of Family Practice.
“It’s really to kind of meet people where they’re at.”
Narang said there are still gaps within communities, and parts of the Interior Health region — including the South Cariboo, Kootenay Lake, Kimberley and Windermere — have seen rising COVID-19 case rates in the last week.
Near the Alberta border, the unincorporated lake community of Windermere in the East Kootenay has a population of just over 1,000.
Data shows Windermere was the province’s COVID-19 hotspot in the week of June 11 to 17, when its local health area transmission rate rose from an average of eight new cases daily for every 100,000 people to 26 per 100,000.
“It could be from Albertans coming over, it could be people leaving the Lower Mainland,” Narang said.
That growth is concerning as B.C. opens up to travel, Narang said, and he expects some communities that had low case levels for a long time could see the impact of visitors potentially introducing the virus.
“If you haven’t had a vaccine and you’re travelling across the province, then you’re a potential vector of transmission,” he said.
The best defence for small communities Narang added, is a good level of vaccination protection.View link »