Update – March 26, 10:30 a.m.: All spots for the Sun Peaks vaccination clinics are currently full. Residents are asked to phone back on Monday, March 29 when additional spots will be available.
“Clinics are being added,” said a statement from Interior Health Authority. “Unfortunately, creating clinics to meet the demand is a work in progress. We understand it is frustrating to have to call back, but we ask people to be patient and know that everyone will get an appointment.”
The Interior Health Authority (IHA) has announced a series of immunization clinics in rural communities, with Sun Peaks’ dates set for May 4 to 7, 2021, to be held at the Sun Peaks Centre.
Those dates are at the tail end of the order for when rural communities in IHA are scheduled to receive immunization.
Laura Bantock, executive director of the Sun Peaks Health Centre, said the organization is open to working with IHA to move up those dates if it is possible.
“I have said that if a sooner date becomes available, we will make it happen,” said Bantock.
Bantock said that the approach, which will allow all Sun Peaks residents who are 18 years old and older to receive their first vaccination over those days, represents Phase 3 and 4 of the province’s vaccination plan being rolled into one and is an effective way to approach vaccinations in rural areas.
Bantock added the Sun Peaks Centre, where the immunizations are set to occur, makes a great site for the undertaking, given the large atrium space and the fact the public can be directed to enter on one side of the building and exit the other.
The socio-economic conditions inherent to ski resorts—where it is common for young workers to spend lots of time with one another and live in densely populated housing—has led decision makers to take unique approaches when it comes to immunization in some cases.
In mid-March, Vancouver Coastal Health launched a special immunization program for people living in staff housing and high-density shared housing in Whistler, which recorded just over 700 positive COVID-19 cases between Jan. 1 and late February.
Big White, which is overseen by IHA, also arranged an early vaccination program for people living in staff housing and shared accomodation.
IHA held an on-mountain immunization program for these groups this past weekend.
In an email to Sun Peaks Independent News, IHA said it does not have plans for a similar program here in Sun Peaks.
“Interior Health received a limited supply of the first delivery AstraZeneca vaccine that needs to be deployed before it expires in early April,” said the statement.
“That supply is being deployed to work places that have been identified as high risk where adhering to public health guidance is difficult. At this time, Sun Peaks has not been identified as one of these settings for the initial supply.”
Big White saw a large outbreak of COVID-19 in February, while Sun Peaks has seen only a few cases.
COVID-19 vaccinations in Sun Peaks will be made by appointment only.
Residents can register for their vaccine appointment by calling 1-877-740-7747 between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. The province is also expected to launch a new online booking system in early April to facilitate bookings.
According to online reports, residents of Whitecroft and the Heffley-Louis Creek Valley are able to register for the Sun Peaks vaccination dates ( May 4 to 7).
Asked if this indeed is the case a spokesperson for IHA said the catchment area hasn’t been nailed down, but that people in the region should call the above number anyhow.
“Setting up the clinics across IH and identifying eligibility is a work in progress and a major undertaking. However, when people call the call centre, they will be given their clinic location, along with their appointment date,” reads the statement.
“We are asking people to be patient while all the details are worked through. People can be assured there is enough vaccine for everybody who wants to be immunized.”
People at higher risk from COVID-19 due to existing medical conditions, such as various forms of cancer, transplant recipients and severe respiratory conditions, will be able to register for their COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday, March 29, 2021. These clinics will be in Kamloops.
Such people, who have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), will receive a letter in the mail in the coming days with information on how to book an appointment..
People who receive this invitation letter must bring it with them to their vaccination appointment.
If people who believe they are in the CEV group have not received a letter by April 15 they can contact the provincial call centre or visit the get vaccinated provincial online registration and booking system, which is scheduled to launch on April 6, to confirm if they are on the CEV list.
To register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, the public will only be asked for:
– legal name
– date of birth
– postal code
– personal health number (PHN) from a Care Card or the back of the BC driver’s licence or
– BC services cards, and
– current contact information, including an email address or a phone number that is regularly checked.
To learn about B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan please click here.
Joel Barde is a reporter hired with funding from the Local Journalism Initiative, a federal program created to support “original civic journalism that covers the diverse needs of underserved communities across Canada.” His writing is focused on the tourism industry in the Thompson Okanagan from the resident perspective.