COVID-19: B.C. promotes ‘Walk-in Wednesday’ vaccine clinics as coronavirus cases rise

B.C. could soon be left with about 20 per cent of the population, or 900,000 people, who haven’t been vaccinated. “All programs are now aimed at them,” said Dr. Brian Conway.

Article content

It was “Walk-in Wednesday” at almost 40 vaccination clinics across B.C. on Wednesday as health authorities work to push the province’s vaccination rate above 80 per cent as COVID-19 cases continue to climb.

Advertisement

Article content

Some clinics added live music to entice people to drop in without an appointment to get their first or second shot.

“We’re just waiting for a few trombones to show up,” said Wilf Froese, a member of Beyond Brass, a Kamloops band that sent several members to play at a clinic at the Tournament Capital Centre on Wednesday morning.

The band has been practising in sections during the pandemic, becoming a “garage band of sorts” to comply with gathering restrictions, said Froese. “We had no hesitation to play here today apart from wondering if we were ready to play in public.”

Interior Health sets up a mobile immunization clinic in the parking lot of the Creston and District Community Complex on June 25 and 26.
Interior Health sets up a mobile immunization clinic in the parking lot of the Creston and District Community Complex on June 25 and 26. Photo by Kelsey Yates/Creston Valley Advance /Black Press

B.C. appears on track to have 80 per cent of the population 12 and older fully immunized with two doses by about Aug. 20, said Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre.

Advertisement

Article content

“That’s both better and quicker than anticipated,” he said.

But the doctor said data shows a majority of recent vaccinations, about five out of every six jabs, are second doses, not first. “That number is out of whack with what we need to be seeing in order to vaccinate everybody.”

Assuming people who have had their first dose follow up and get their second, Conway said B.C. could soon be left with about 20 per cent of the population, or about 900,000 people, who haven’t been vaccinated.

“That 20 per cent has chosen after all these months and opportunities not to get vaccinated, so all programs are now aimed at them.”

Through his research and discussions with colleagues, Conway believes that group can be broken into three separate groups, with about half of them, or 10 per cent of the population, being people who have put off vaccination due to the hassle, logistics or lack of understanding.

Advertisement

Article content

“I think these Walk-in Wednesday events are aimed at that 10 per cent,” he said. “We’ll see if they show up.”

Conway warned that one drop-in clinic isn’t going to reach every one of the 450,000 people represented in that group, but a series of events in specifically targeted locations might in time move the needle to about 90 per cent vaccinated.

That would leave another 10 per cent of the population unvaccinated.

Conway said holdouts can be further broken down into people who could be convinced to get the vaccine, but have questions, and those who have bought into false narratives about the vaccine’s development and safety.

Those with questions might be convinced if they could speak to an expert face-to-face and have their questions answered before getting a shot.

Advertisement

Article content

“That can’t be done in five minutes, and it can’t really be done at a Walk-in Wednesday,” he said.

On its website, Doctors of B.C. says that with exception of some smaller communities, family practices will not be asked to administer the vaccines in their clinics.

“It will be much later in the process before clinics or community pharmacies are broadly used in urban areas. For this to happen, we need vaccines that do not require the same special considerations for handling, ideally require only one dose, and the provincial reporting system will need to be fully in place,” said the association.

Conway said the province should reconsider its position on allowing family practices to administer the vaccine, particularly since research has shown the Pfizer vaccine can now be stored at typical fridge temperatures for up to a month.

Advertisement

Article content

It’s a case of “the higher, the better” when it comes to vaccination rates, he said, with variants on the rise and travel from the U.S. poised to resume. Despite B.C.’s best efforts to track and contain outbreaks, including those that may be caused by international travellers bringing variants into the province, vaccination will be “our first line of defence.”

According to the B.C. COVID-19 update for Wednesday, 81.5 per cent (3,777,588) of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 67.9 per cent (3,146,669) have received their second dose. B.C. reported 342 new cases of COVID-19, with more than half of them (171 cases), in Interior Health.

Vaccination rates across the province vary from community to community, with some of the lowest rates in the Peace River, Enderby and Fort Nelson local health regions.

gluymes@postmedia.com

twitter.com/glendaluymes

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

This website uses cookies and asks your personal data to enhance your browsing experience.