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Northern Health mass vaccination program underway in small towns

Last Updated Apr 9, 2021 at 10:30 pm PDT

FILE -- Syringes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine sit in a tray in a vaccination room at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

All adults in select small towns in the Northern Health region are eligible to get the jab

Rec centres and arenas are being used as immunization clinics

The number of seniors in these locations is so small eligibility is being expanded

VICTORIA (NEWS1130) — While most people in the Lower Mainland wait to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a mass immunization program has been quietly underway for the past few weeks in the Northern Health region.

All adults in select small towns are eligible to get the jab.

Much like the effort to get all adults immunized in Prince Rupert last month, Northern Health is now offering vaccinations for people 18 and older in communities such as Valemount, Fort St James and Tumbler Ridge.

The region’s Eryn Collins says because the number of seniors in those locations is so small, it makes sense to widen the number of eligible people.

She says clinics are being held in a variety of places to accommodate the volume of people.

“We have been using everything from civic centres to our health unit facilities. We are moving into an arena setting in Quesnel in the coming weeks.”

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccinations in B.C.: What you need to know

In larger centres like Quesnel and Prince George, vaccinations are still only for those 65 and older.

People need to make appointments to get the jab, and clinics in Valemount and McBride won’t be running until later this month.

The clinics are a community effort, according to Collins.

“The immunizers are primarily health care staff, but we have had a lot of volunteer support for the clinics — everything from the positions we need for the movement of people, registration staff, greeters.”

People from outside those towns trying to get in line might come across an obstacle.

“One of the things that is required when you are registering is your personal health number and other forms of identification, which, by and large, includes your current address of residence. I would hope people keep in mind any advisories that discourage everything but essential travel at this point.”

Last month, Northern Health launched the same program for those 18 and older in Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii, Stewart, Dease Lake, Granisle, Hazelton and Houston.

Northern Health has 79 new COVID cases. The region has two ongoing outbreaks – one at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital and one at Acropolis Manor. Three patients and one staff member at the hospital have tested positive, while five residents at Acropolis have contracted the virus.