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B.C. health officials call for culturally safe vaccination plan for Metis residents

Last Updated Feb 20, 2021 at 11:46 am PST

FILE - A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Summary

B.C. wants all the pieces in place before announcing the locations of and access plans for 172 COVID-19 vaccine clinics

Dr. Bonnie Henry said there will be some chaos and asks people to be patient with the process expected to start in March

VICTORIA — B.C. health officials say there will be chaos and hiccups in the vaccine rollout, but they’re trying to make the process as safe as possible for the province’s Indigenous residents.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told the annual general meeting of Metis Nation British Columbia Saturday that officials want all the pieces in place before announcing the locations of and access plans for 172 vaccination clinics.

“We’re establishing a process so people know how to call in, how to get an appointment ahead of time, when your age group comes up, and there will be much, much more information. We’re trying to get it all set up in order before we go publically for it so people aren’t ready in one place and not in another,” she said.

While she admits it will take time to get the details sorted out, Henry said it’s important to get the word out in a clear and accurate way to help vulnerable people get their vaccines.

Henry added there will be some chaos and asks people to be patient with the process that is expected to start in the middle of March.

Dr. Daniele Behn Smith, the deputy provincial health officer for Indigenous Health, said it would be inconceivable that there wouldn’t be hiccups and bumps in the rollout.

She said the government has been working hard to ensure that Metis people feel seen during the vaccination process, especially in light of a report released last year that found widespread Indigenous racism in B.C.’s health system.

Behn Smith said Metis will be eligible to get their vaccinations starting 15 years younger than the rest of the population, meaning they can get their shot at 65 when 80-year-old residents are being called.

“Age has far and away been identified as the single greatest risk factor for severe COVID-19 and COVID-19 related death,” she said.