The first of two COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Kamloops opened at the McArthur Island Sports Centre Monday, March 15, with 408 appointments booked on the first day, Monday, March 15.
One of those appointments was filled by Albert “Bud” Rankel, 94, who was grateful to be receiving his shot. Given his age, he said he was looking forward to it.
A veteran of the Second World War, Rankel, a widower who lives alone, said he has been managing through the pandemic with pastimes such as gardening and fishing.
“I’m still getting along pretty good, as long as I don’t get this bug,” he said with a laugh.
Barely feeling this first inoculation, Rankel said he’s looking forward to his second shot later this year.
Once the first dose takes effect, he hopes to once again visit his brother-in-law in Kamloops and do his own shopping again with a mask and a bit more confidence.
“I kinda miss getting around a little bit,” Rankel said.
Receiving their vaccines on Monday brought relief for Westsyde residents Gladys and Harvey Royer, who have hardly left home in the past year.
“It’s a relief to know that you’re getting something,” Gladys, 83, said of receiving her COVID-19 shot.
Harvey, 78, said with the vaccine rollout underway, he is hopeful an end to the pandemic is in sight.
Once their vaccines take effect, the Royers — who have an Indigenous background — are looking forward to being able to get out of the house a bit more, having spent a year without getting attending the salon and shopping for groceries online.
The couple is also looking forward to again spending time with loved ones.
“It will be so much nicer to visit and have visitors,” Harvey said. “We’re grandparents many times over and we just haven’t seen them for quite some time.”
The McArthur Island vaccination clinic is fully booked for the week, with about 400 people a day being inoculated, said Carla Mantie, interim clinical operations director for public health in Interior Health West.
An inoculation clinic at the Tournament Capital Centre will open on March 22, and is expected to administer up to 340 people per day. The McArthur Island clinic is running seven days a week, Mantie said, with the TCC clinic set to operate five days a week, increasing to six days per week as of April 12.
The two clinics are administering the shots by appointment. The amended vaccination schedule this week is as follows:
• Tuesday: 83+ (1938 or earlier)
• Thursday: 81+ (1940 or earlier)
• Friday: 80+ (1941 or earlier)
Indigenous people age 65 and older have been eligible to book appointments since March 8.
The number to call is 1-877-740-7747. The call centre will be open seven days per week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information on how to book a vaccine appointment, go online to immunizebc.ca.
There will be 10 immunization stations at the TCC, in addition to the 12 now operating on McArthur Island, but those numbers will increase in mid-April when Interior Health enters phase three of the vaccination rollout.
Raising a green paddle in the air when their station becomes free, nurses at each table at the McArthur Island centre go over instructions with each attendee before giving them the shot. After getting inoculated, attendees are sent to a waiting area for 15 minutes to monitor for any possible side effects or reactions before they are sent on their way with the first of two shots required in the vaccination process.
It will take about two to three weeks for immunity from the vaccine to fully take effect and Interior Health is encouraging people to continue taking precautions — wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and engaging in rigorous hand washing even beyond the two week period.
Second and final doses are to be administered about four months from the first shots.
Mantie said Interior Health is hoping everyone who wants a vaccine will have their first doses by June as inoculators move through the age groups.
Everyone receiving their first doses now at the two Kamloops clinics will begin receiving their second shots in the summer, she said. The clinics are expected to run until September, at which time inoculation may be managable at the public health unit in the city alone.
Only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are in stock for Kamloops’ two centres at the moment.
“Mostly Pfizer within Kamloops and Moderna more for our rural areas,” Mantie said.
She said Interior Health has no concern about the supply chain of their vaccines, which are not stored on site at the clinics.
Since phase one, which began in December, a number of other clinics had already been held in Interior Health for high-risk populations, such as health-care workers, the homeless and people living in care homes.
Phase two has been ongoing since late February, with groups making appointments based on age — oldest to youngest.
Mantie said she feels elated to be at this stage in the vaccine rollout, with a mass vaccination clinic now underway in Kamloops, adding she is proud of the staff and volunteers they have, as well as the health authority’s partnership with the City of Kamloops.
Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week