Access to COVID-19 vaccines for vulnerable populations continues to be an ongoing issue, medical experts say, but a coalition of agencies in Calgary is reaching out to make a change — one injection at a time.
To address this issue, a drop-in vaccination clinic at 316 7 Avenue SE is being hosted by a handful of outreach groups and Indigenous health administrations — including the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary, Okaki and Siksika Health Services as well as Be the Change YYC.
The clinic will run from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays, at least until the end of November.
“We wanted to create one of the most equitable programs that really met a person with a trauma-informed approach,” said Chaz Smith, founder of Be the Change YYC.
“Somebody that’s hungry and thirsty needs to be fed and given water while they’re receiving their vaccination.”
“We’ve vaccinated close to 400 people since we started.”
A street team of outreach workers also connects with the community, walking around downtown Calgary to hand out supplies, including food, water, warm clothing and sleeping bags.
“They’re letting people experiencing homelessness know that the clinic is open and they can come get their vaccine here as well,” Smith said.
Some Alberta medical experts say access to vaccines for some continues to be an ongoing issue.
“The people who we’re now seeing are either the unfortunate and marginalized, so they didn’t have access to vaccines, or they’ve decided actively COVID isn’t a thing,” said Dr. Darren Markland, an ICU physician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton.
“Hospitals are filling up and surgeries are being cancelled and we’re just doing our part to reduce the pressure on the healthcare system,” Smith said.
Smith said monetary or clothing donations can be made to Be the Change YYC.