Interior Health to start vaccinating elderly population against COVID-19 | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interior Health to start vaccinating elderly population against COVID-19

A container of COVID-19 vaccinations is seen in this Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 photo. It was the first delivery in B.C. of approximately 4,000 doses of the first approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
March 07, 2021 - 4:30 PM

Elderly British Columbians and Aboriginal people over the age of 65 will get to queue up starting tomorrow for the COVID-19 vaccine but don't expect life for those older loved ones to change just yet.

Dr. Albert De Villiers, Interior Health's chief medical health officer, said while the vaccinations will be going into an estimated 400,000 arms across the province in the month ahead, the provincial health officer's orders and guidelines are still in place and should be followed. He wasn't able to say how many Interior Health residents would be included in this wave of vaccinations.

"Even if you've got your vaccine you should still follow all those orders," he said.

Health officials will be looking into when visitation to those in long-term care can start to take place, but that's not happening yet.

"At this point, it is so important to continue to follow the provincial directions until we actually come up with a new set of guidelines," De Villiers said.

"So the guidelines are still in place, the orders are still in place so while that is in place, we still have to follow them. The vaccine is not widespread enough that we can, at this point, stop following orders, but hopefully, within the next few weeks and months we'll be able to get there."

In the meantime, getting jabs into the arms of seniors, who are most vulnerable, is the main focus.

"Starting tomorrow, eligible seniors can call a dedicated Interior Health phone number to make an appointment for their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine," Karen Bloemink, vice president of pandemic response, said in the release.

"To ensure our call center can accommodate volumes, and we aren't sure how those volumes will go initially, we are asking that these seniors, or their family members or friends if the senior requires assistance to call us using a staggered approach, according to a schedule."

Beginning tomorrow, seniors aged 90 years and over, born in, or before 1931, and Aboriginal peoples aged 65 years or over, or before 1956 and elders can call to book their vaccine appointment.

Starting the following week, beginning March 15, seniors aged 85 years and older born in, or before 1936, can call to book their appointments.

And then the next week, starting March 22, seniors aged 80 years and over or those born in or before 1941 can call to book their appointment.

When asked if they had ample supply for this next round of vaccines with the health region, health officials offered assurances they did, however, Bloemink did point out that they're obviously dealing with the national supply chain. There was no estimate for how many people in the region will get the shot.

She also explained that those who book in for an appointment are doing so only for the first shot. Once people are in the system they will be contacted for round two, which is going to be delayed for up to four months as per a recent decision by the Ministry of Health.

The clinic model is not unusual for vaccination programs but Bloemink did say there will be flexibility for those who have unique circumstances.

"We first would expect that individuals will come to clinics where at all possible and that would be through their tapping into their support networks," she said.

"And if that is not possible, then we will work with those individuals to create a plan that fits the needs that they do have, so it could involve our team coming into their home. It's hard to say ... it depends on what those individual needs might look like."

When people book their appointments, they will be provided with information about where to go to get their immunization but it will likely be at one of the following places. Bloemink said later there may be changes to the locations as times go on.

  • Kamloops North will be set up to give vaccines at McArthur Park Rec. Area, which is at 1655 Island Pkwy  and Kamloops South will see a clinic set  up at the Tournament Capital Centre
  • 910 McGill Rd.
  • Kelowna will see clinics set up Kelowna Health Services Centre at 505 Doyle March and at Trinity Hall, at 1905 Springfield Rd. West Kelowna will have a clinic at the Westbank Community Centre.
  • Penticton will have its clinic set up at Penticton Trade and Convention Centre at 273 Power St
  • Vernon will be set up at the Vernon Rec centre.

To see all of the locations to get a vaccine go here.

To book an appointment call 1-877-740-7747 between 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., PST, seven days a week.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 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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