With COVID-19 cases trending in the wrong direction, the provincial government is making a big push to get more people vaccinated.
Walk-In Wednesday on Aug. 4 will see the clinic at Chilliwack Mall open for drop-ins. Anyone who is 12 years or older can stop by for a first vaccine dose, and anyone who received their first dose before June 16 can get a second shot of Pfizer or Moderna.
The clinic will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and ‘drop-in’ means no need to register beforehand, by phone or internet. People are asked to bring ID, and in the case of a second dose, their immunization record card.
“It’s an opportunity for people who haven’t got their vaccine up to now, for whatever reason, to get it,” said BC Health Minister Adrian Dix.
According to Dix, the province is doing very well getting needles in arms, hitting 81.4 per cent first dose and 67.3 per cent second dose as of Tuesday, Aug. 3.
Chilliwack’s vaccination rate is lagging behind. According to Dix the level of locals ages 12 and up who’ve received a first dose was around 70 per cent last week.
“It’s not terrible, but it could be higher,” he said. “That’s why there’s Walk-In Wednesday, so we can start to address that. I want to see vaccination levels higher everywhere, and the next thing we’re looking at province wide is 85 per cent first dose. That’s going to take us a little while, but I think we can get there.”
Taking away the registration factor, if only for one day, removes one barrier to vaccination.
“Walk-In Wednesday is one way to do that, and our mobile vaccination clinics are another,” Dix said. “We‘ve been at Cultus Lake beach and elsewhere with our mobile clinics, and we’re trying to find new ways to get vaccines to people. There are also people who are opposed to vaccines, but we think that’s a relatively small number. We want to answer the questions of those people who have questions, and eliminate the issue of accessibility for everyone else.”
Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry held a Telephone Town Hall with Chilliwack residents last week, hoping to combat vaccine misinformation.
He said it went “very well.”
“The fact that immunization rates in B.C. are so high is a good sign, and I strongly believe in changing minds and encouraging people instead of calling people out or criticizing them,” Dix said. “In the United States we see a very divisive situation, and I don’t think it’s very helpful. I also think it affects the Canadian debate, and it’s a challenge. There’s a lot of information and some deliberate lying out there about these vaccines, but they’re safe and effective and some of the best vaccines modern medicine has ever created.
”What we have to do is continue to treat people with respect, answer their questions and give everybody the opportunity to get vaccinated.”