More people received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Central Okanagan thanks to a pop-up clinic hosted by the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA).
The clinic first opened up on Wednesday (April 27) at the Coast Capri Hotel and will be in town until Thursday (April 29). The goal is to give vaccine access to Indigenous residents who may have missed vaccination clinics in their home communities or live away from their community.
“Really, this is an additional avenue for Indigenous residents who are living away from home,” FNHA regional manager Casey Neathway said.
“Interior Health also makes vaccines available through their provincial program for all Indigenous folks 18 years and older. We also hosted clinics within First Nations communities.
“Between all those avenues, we’re feeling pretty good about the access to vaccines for Indigenous residents.”
Neathway added that First Nations communities have managed the spread of the virus in their communities, keeping people safe.
“First Nations communities have done a fantastic job of protecting their members and that’s everything from establishing COVID safety routines to setting up vaccine clinics as soon as those vaccines were available,” he said.
“And I think we’re seeing a really positive trend in terms of the number of positive COVID cases that are happening in those communities.”
The clinic’s goal may be to vaccinate Indigenous residents away from their home communities, but Neathway added they aren’t turning anyone away.
An example is a resident who drove from Hedley to Kelowna to receive her first dose.
“I’m Mohawk, but I work for the Upper Similkameen Indian Band. I missed the vaccine clinic then due to health reasons, but I’m happy to be here now,” Michelle Jacobs said.
“It took two hours to get here, but it’s worth it.”
Kelly Fosbery from Westbank First Nation said she’s grateful to receive the vaccine and for her community’s management of the virus.
“Our Chief and council, they’ve handled it all very well. They had a vaccine clinic that we missed, but it’s going pretty well. People are looking out for each other,” she said.
She also wanted to encourage people to get vaccinated as soon as they can.
“We’re getting vaccinated to protect our family and our community, and it’s exciting to get rid of some of that anxiety around COVID.”
The clinic will be offering vaccines until Thursday (April 29). To register for a timeslot, email Sue Storey at email@example.com or call 236-484-4002.