B.C. cancels West Vancouver country club's clinic offering AstraZeneca vaccine to members

·4 min read
Hollyburn Country Club is shown in West Vancouver on Friday. The exclusive club sent an email to members offering them doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a planned 'pop up' clinic set for April 26 until it was cancelled by the province. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Hollyburn Country Club is shown in West Vancouver on Friday. The exclusive club sent an email to members offering them doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a planned 'pop up' clinic set for April 26 until it was cancelled by the province. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

The B.C. government has cancelled a "pop up" vaccine clinic planned by an exclusive West Vancouver country club after it sent an email to members offering them doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The email, sent by Hollyburn Country Club CEO Ed McLaughlin on April 22 and obtained by CBC News, said members could email and book their vaccine by providing personal information, including a club ID number.

"We understand that there are long wait lists for COVID-19 vaccines in our local communities. To offer some of our members a convenient way to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, we have organized a pop-up clinic at Hollyburn," the email read in part.

The clinic was set to run on April 26, with doses being administered by Indigo Pharmacy to club members born between 1956 and 1981.

After an inquiry from CBC News, McLaughlin wrote in an email: "Hollyburn Country Club had partnered with a local pharmacy to provide vaccinations to our eligible front-line staff and had also explored making this available to eligible club members. Upon receiving advice from the health authority, we will not be providing this service through the club."

In a statement, the province said the clinic had been cancelled.

"This is unacceptable, we cancelled the clinic and won't be providing any further COVID-19 vaccines to this pharmacy," it said.

Hollyburn Country Club is a private sports facility and club located in West Vancouver, described on its website as "a private hub for activity, sport, dining, entertainment, socialization and business." Initiation fees to the club are about $40,000.

B.C. began offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 40 and above on Monday.

At the time, there were about 190,000 available doses in the province, with people being told to book their vaccine directly through pharmacies.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said most of the province's available AstraZeneca doses had been used up by Thursday afternoon, with some doses being redirected to hot spots around the province.

'No intention' of being exclusive: pharmacist

Ken Lee, a pharmacist at Indigo Pharmacy in New Westminster, B.C., which was set to administer the doses according to the letter from McLaughlin, said his pharmacy had previously set up flu shot clinics at the country club and reached out to the club when it received doses of AstraZeneca.

Lee said his pharmacy thought to partner with the country club because his clinic lacks the space necessary to properly distance people after they have received the vaccine and are under observation. While Indigo Pharmacy is in B.C.'s Fraser Health region, Hollyburn Country Club is in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

Lee said he had reached out to some clients in North Vancouver to tell them about the pop-up clinic but had not widely advertised the clinic to the community.

Hollyburn Country Club, a private sports facility and club located in West Vancouver, is described on its website as 'a private hub for activity, sport, dining, entertainment, socialization and business.' Initiation fees are about $40,000.
Hollyburn Country Club, a private sports facility and club located in West Vancouver, is described on its website as 'a private hub for activity, sport, dining, entertainment, socialization and business.' Initiation fees are about $40,000.(Ben Nelms/CBC)

As of Friday, three days prior to the planned clinic at Hollyburn Country Club, Indigo Pharmacy's website said that it did not have any more doses of AstraZeneca available.

"We had no intention of offering the vaccines only to an exclusive group. The intentions were much more innocent than that," he said, adding his pharmacy has inoculated around 100 people in the community.

"It could be seen as being an exclusive club, but it's a population we've inoculated in the past ... If the intent was to be exclusive, every dose would have gone to Hollyburn. "

Lee said his pharmacy has no financial connection to Hollyburn Country Club.

West Vancouver Mayor Mary-Ann Booth declined to comment on the club's clinic on Friday. On Saturday, she wrote on Twitter that she had cancelled her membership to Hollyburn Country Club and was "appalled" that it had planned a vaccine clinic for members.

"Although I did not receive the invitation to Hollyburn Country Club's exclusive pop-up vaccination clinic myself, I was appalled when I heard about it through the media. It is completely unacceptable, and I have cancelled my family's Hollyburn membership in response," she wrote.

"West Vancouver Council supports the province's vaccination program, which provides access to the vaccine to all British Columbians on a fair and equitable basis."