CEMA chief wants more mobile vaccination clinics

·2 min read
 A nurse holds a panel signalling for the next vaccine client at a mass immunization site in Calgary on April 20, 2021. The chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency is calling for more mobile clinics to target areas falling behind in vaccination rates. (Leah Hennel/AHS - image credit)
A nurse holds a panel signalling for the next vaccine client at a mass immunization site in Calgary on April 20, 2021. The chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency is calling for more mobile clinics to target areas falling behind in vaccination rates. (Leah Hennel/AHS - image credit)

The head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency said her team is working with provincial officials on getting more mobile vaccination clinics in the city, especially east of Deerfoot Trail.

Sue Henry spoke at a meeting of city council's emergency management committee on Tuesday.

She presented data that shows areas east of Deerfoot are lagging in the effort to get COVID-19 vaccines into people's arms.

West of that freeway, vaccination rates range from 49 to 59 per cent of people already having the first shot of vaccine.

But in areas east of Deerfoot, 39 to 47 per cent have rolled up their sleeve once.

Vaccination rates are lower in east Calgary, as seen on this map presented at city council's emergency management committee on Tuesday.
Vaccination rates are lower in east Calgary, as seen on this map presented at city council's emergency management committee on Tuesday.(City of Calgary)

Henry said CEMA is talking to the province about ways to change the picture.

"When we talk about our advocacy to the province, we continue to work through the zone emergency operations centre to advocate for mobile vaccination clinics and for vaccination clinics that are drop-in based and that bring vaccinations to those communities that are in particular need of them," said Henry.

The CEMA chief said her team is spending "a significant amount of time" to bring down barriers in getting vaccines to people.

Hesitancy isn't the issue

Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal told the committee that vaccine hesitancy isn't the key issue to overcome.

He pointed out that the mass vaccination clinic at the Genesis Centre in Saddle Ridge is well booked out.

"It's difficult for many residents in east Calgary to get access to that facility and others to get vaccines," said Chahal.

"From what I'm hearing, people want to get vaccinated but it's barriers of accessibility."

Mobile clinics are already being used to reach some communities that are not showing up at pharmacies or vaccination clinics.

Last week, a mobile clinic was held at the Chinook LRT station to help reach homeless Calgarians.

Workplace clinics have also been organized at meatpacking plants like Cargill's operation in High River.

Last week, the City of Calgary extended its state of local emergency for another 90 days because of current COVID-19 case numbers.

Henry said while cases are falling, it was deemed important to keep the emergency declaration in place both for public messaging and so the city can respond quickly to unforeseen situations.

She told the committee that the declaration can be revoked on short notice if council decides it's no longer needed.

Calgary has been in a state of local emergency since last November.

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