Thousands turn out to get the jab at 36-hour COVID-19 ‘vax-a-thon’ in Surrey

People line up to be immunized against COVID-19 at the Guildford Rec Centre on Sunday. Global News

The line-ups were long but moving briskly at the Guildford Rec Centre in Surrey on Sunday, where healthcare workers entered the home-stretch of their 36-hour COVID-19 vaccination marathon.

By early afternoon, clinic manager Elizabeth Bremner estimated staff had already administered 4,850 shots — with a target of 7,000 by closing time at 7 p.m. Sunday evening.

“It was a big rush yesterday, big rush. And the flow of clients kept coming right through the night,” Bremner said.

“When I came in this morning at 6 a.m., I saw they had opened new lanes to try to accommodate the capacity.”

Fraser Health took inspiration for the all-night vaccine clinic from a similar vaccine marathon in Ontario’s Peel Region.

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Click to play video: 'DJs and door prizes: Fraser Health holds overnight vaccine marathon'
DJs and door prizes: Fraser Health holds overnight vaccine marathon

Officials said offering shots in the wee hours was a way to reach out to people who may not have been able to arrange their booking because they work shiftwork or have other barriers.

Fraser Health was encouraging people to book their shots ahead of time. Some second doses were being administered, but only to people currently in the eligible age group.

Walk-in and standby spaces were being held available for people who have yet to have their first dose, which Bremner said was the clinic’s priority.

READ MORE: COVID-19: 109 new cases, 1 new death as B.C. heads into 1st weekend of eased restrictions

As of Friday, about 25 per cent of British Columbians aged 12 and over still hadn’t had a single dose of vaccine.

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Click to play video: 'Drop-in urban immunization clinics target B.C.’s Interior'
Drop-in urban immunization clinics target B.C.’s Interior

Surrey boasted a rate slightly better than the provincial average, with 77 per cent among people aged 12-plus having their first shot, but other parts of Fraser Health have lagged, including Abbotsford (71 per cent), Chilliwack (66 per cent) and Mission (65 per cent).

Seventy-seven-year-old Tarlochan Singh and his son Kuljeet were among the families who took advantage of Father’s Day to get the jab.

Kuljeet said the family had a picnic planned later but didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to get his father immunized with his second dose.

“He’s very secure now, 100 per cent vaccinated. So we can plan travel and that,” he said.

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The weekend clinic is open to anyone residing in the Fraser Health region, regardless of whether they are an official B.C. resident or have a personal health number.

Staff are giving shots until 7 p.m. at the Guildford Recreation Centre at 15105-105 Ave. in Surrey.

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