Anti-vax 'wellness' clinics in Kamloops, Vernon shuttered | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Anti-vax 'wellness' clinics in Kamloops, Vernon shuttered

The VASS Wellness clinics in Vernon and Kamloops will shut their doors for good after struggling to keep afloat, catering to the anti-COVID vaccine market.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/VASS Wellness Kamloops

A pair of clinics in Kamloops and Vernon that were opened to serve unvaccinated people during the COVID-19 pandemic are shutting down.

VASS Wellness opened in Vernon in January and the former Ezra Wellness in Kamloops placed itself under the VASS Wellness umbrella. The clinics sold naturopathic medicines and the marketing was aimed at "pro vaccine choice" customers.

Glenn Aalderink, a former nurse, tried to operate the Kamloops location, but said it was too costly to keep afloat. 

"It was all people who were nice enough to donate stuff that would help the centre stay viable," he said.

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Aalderink is giving up the Tranquille Road clinic because the rent was too expensive. It was his second clinic on that street since October 2021.

He started Ezra Wellness briefly last fall, but the landlord kicked him out shortly after. He later reopened at another location on Tranquille Road, which lasted little more than a year.

The Vass Wellness non-profit society has been disbanded, meaning the Vernon location is also expected to shut down. Aalderink disagreed when asked whether the anti-vaccine customer base was too small to base a business on.

"Some wrong decisions were made — expensive decisions," Aalderink said. "As far as the board went, the other members decided they wanted choose different endeavours."

Now without his nursing licence, Aalderink plans to take his "wellness advocate" work to home care. While he can't care for a patient like he would have as a nurse at Royal Inland Hospital, he will "consult" patients and advise them on next steps.

When the Kamloops location opened last year, the B.C. College of Nurses said it would be watching the clinic closely, mostly to ensure it didn't advertise that patients would be cared for by nurses. Aalderink said they briefly considered the term "nurz" to skirt regulations.

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Aalderink's been known publicly for other efforts in the past, including for his role organizing what became a nation-wide vaccine mandate protest in front of Canadian hospitals. He's been part of the COVID protest group Freedom Kamloops for more than a year, which most recently tried to serve Kamloops RCMP with a document urging police to investigate and arrest people behind vaccine mandates, which the group and Aalderink see as unjust.

He doesn't agree with the label "anti-vaccine" to describe his beliefs, but he instead believes in giving people a choice of whether or not they should be vaccinated for the virus behind a worldwide pandemic.

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While most vaccine requirements have been scrapped by the province, health-care workers in some facilities are still required to have their vaccines.

Even though Aalderink could renew his licence as a licensed practical nurse, he said he won't be considering that anytime soon.

"I'm not saying I would never go back in because I love the field. There's a definite sense that I've been betrayed," he said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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