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Dr. Bonnie Henry, Fraser Health apologize for pop-up vaccine clinic confusion

Last Updated Apr 29, 2021 at 6:22 pm PDT


'I sincerely apologize ... There was confusion and frustration,' said Dr. Victoria Lee with the Fraser Health Authority

B.C.'s top doctor also apologizes for chaos, says more than a million COVID-19 vaccine doses are on the way

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s top doctor and the head of the Fraser Health Authority are both apologizing for miscommunication that led to thousands of people across the region scrambling to get a spot at pop-up clinics in region over the past few days.

The clinics have been halted, and it’s unclear if they will start up again.

Dr. Victoria Lee, who is the head of the Fraser Health Authority, says she’s sorry many people were forced to wait more than four hours to get immunized against COVID-19, while others in target groups were never notified.

“I sincerely apologize for any negative experience that people may have had. There was confusion and frustration,” she said.

The rollout of the pop-up clinics had been described by many as chaotic, with many only hearing about the clinics through word of mouth.

The clinics were offering vaccine doses to people aged 30 and up, which was the first time most British Columbians under the age of 40 were eligible.

The purpose of the clinics was to get more people living in COVID-19 high-transmission neighbourhoods vaccinated, but there were some people showing up and getting a shot who do not live in those areas.

A few hundred people lined up at Newton Athletic Park early Thursday morning, however Fraser Health confirmed there would be no clinics anywhere in the region that day. The day before, the park was the site of long lines as well as people — many drawn by word of mouth — showed up in hopes of getting a jab.

Lee says improvements have already been made in an effort to ensure people are not jumping the queue.

“We did implement dual confirmation of age and postal codes. That is an improvement we have made and we’ll be looking at any additional enhancements that we can make,” she said.

However, there are currently no plans to offer any more pop-up clinics.

When it comes to concerns of people who may be trying to get their second dose ahead of people who are trying to get their first, Lee assures there are measures in place to ensure those people looking for their second dose early are turned away.

“When people come into the clinics … not just from the pop-ins but other clinics, as well — there is a system in place,” she said.

“We can check at the clinic whether they’ve had their first dose or not. That’s an important safety measure. Also, it’s important to have at least minimum dates apart between first and second doses.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry apologizes for chaos, says more than a million doses on the way

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also issued an apology Thursday.

“There were some operational things that were done — or not done — that caused a lot of frustration and I absolutely apologize to people for the miscommunications and for the confusion,” Henry said.

“That was certainly not the intent. The intent was to try and reach those people in those communities,” she added.

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Henry says B.C. will be getting a boost of vaccine doses in the coming month.

“We expect to receive over 1 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. And that means that our age based program will be accelerated and everybody will get their turn,” she said.

She believes first responders, teachers, and childcare staff will be able to receive a dose in the coming weeks.

“We expect to have those groups completed in the next three weeks, so by the … middle of May. So that’s the goal,” she said.

Henry is urging everyone to be patient and wait their turn.

“If you’re not in those communities, do not go to those communities,” she said. “You will get your vaccine and there is enough vaccine coming in the next two months that everybody will get their turn. The most efficient way to do it is to register, and you’ll be notified as soon as your age category comes up and you can book yourself into the clinic that will have your vaccine for you.”

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On Thursday, B.C. recorded 853 new COVID-19 cases and one death.

There are more than 500 people in the hospital, 178 of whom are in intensive care.

-With files from Monika Gul