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Vancouver Coastal Health apologizes for failed vaccine delivery to remote community

Last Updated Feb 2, 2021 at 9:32 pm PST

A droplet falls from a syringe after a health care worker was injected with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, R.I., Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The failure to deliver more than 200 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to a remote community in central B.C. has prompted an apology from the person in charge of the province’s vaccine rollout.

Dr. Penny Ballem, who is also the chair of the Vancouver Coastal Health board, says she “deeply regrets that we failed to provide a culturally safe and respectful experience for Nuxalk Nation members while providing COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable elders in their remote community.”

The statement is in response to a CBC report about problems linked to a vaccine clinic last month near Bella Coola.

Reporter Angela Sterritt obtained internal emails showing fewer than 100 doses were delivered before a VCH medical health officer removed his team from the area.

“It is our responsibility to foster a culture of collaboration grounded in humility with First Nation partners. Vancouver Coastal Health has work to do to rebuild a respectful relationship with the Nuxalk Nation – Vancouver Coastal Health Board of Directors, leaders, staff and medical staff are strongly committed to that work.”

Over the course of the pandemic, Indigenous leaders across the country and province say the pandemic has highlighted major gaps the community faces, including poor access to health care.