Health officials say COVID-19 outbreaks remain stubbornly frequent in one northwestern British Columbia city and are prompting a new approach to vaccinations.
Northern Health, the Ministry of Health and the Provincial Health Officer say the entire community of Prince Rupert and nearby Port Edward will be immunized over the next three weeks.
The first clinics for roughly 12,000 Prince Rupert-area residents begin Monday and continue until April 1.
Those eligible can dial a dedicated phone line and appointments will be assigned based on age, with vaccinations for the city’s oldest residents starting March 15 and clinics for those aged 18 to 39 begin March 29.
A statement from Northern Health says the community approach is needed because Prince Rupert has high COVID-19 case and positivity rates that have not reflected recent improvements seen elsewhere in the region.
Northern Health is also using the community immunization model on Haida Gwaii, while Island Health says all residents of nearly 30 communities with populations under 4,000 or with accessibility challenges such as the Gulf Islands, will also be vaccinated together in one or two-day clinics.
Island Health says details of those community clinics are still being arranged.
Northern Health chief medical health officer Dr. Jong Kim says offering group immunizations in areas hit hard by the virus is a responsible approach.
“Quickly vaccinating the entire community is a great way to protect everyone in Prince Rupert, and keep them safe,” Kim says in the statement.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2021.
The Canadian Press