Prince Rupert hopes for end to pandemic after community clinic vaccinates vast majority of city's adults

·2 min read
The Prince Rupert immunization clinic has administered more than 7,000 COVID-19 vaccine shots. (CBC - image credit)
The Prince Rupert immunization clinic has administered more than 7,000 COVID-19 vaccine shots. (CBC - image credit)

Prince George resident Frances Riley was on the verge of tears when she got her COVID-19 shot.

"Getting that needle was the best needle that I've ever gotten," she said. "As much as it was to protect myself and my loved ones, it's doing it for the whole community. And the more of us that get the vaccine, the better.'

On Monday night, a community-wide vaccination clinic at Prince Rupert's Jim Ciccone Civic Centre closed,, marking the conclusion of an intensive eight-day vaccination campaign.

Clinic staff told city officials more 7,000 shots were administered. Just over 9,000 adults reside in Prince Rupert.

"There were so many people from the community, it was mind blowing," said Riley. "You don't even get that many people out to vote, right?"

A resident reviews information on the COVID-19 vaccine at a Prince Rupert. B.C., immunization clinic, the province's first large-scale, community-wide clinic.
A resident reviews information on the COVID-19 vaccine at a Prince Rupert. B.C., immunization clinic, the province's first large-scale, community-wide clinic.(CBC)

The participation rate, and potential for herd immunity, is sparking hope the port town will become a safe harbour from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I can't say anything but positive," said Prince Rupert interim Mayor Wade Niesh.

"It all helps, right? This vaccine is just getting our community to that point where eventually everyone will be this year, everyone in the province will be there ... some sort of normalcy."

Niesh says the city will continue to support all provincial pandemic restrictions and advice on masking, social distancing and hygiene.

Clinic saw more than 400 residents volunteer

Northern Health has yet to establish plans for a followup, second dose, vaccination clinic. The heath authority is making arrangements for residents who were unable to receive the first shot.

Niesh praised the more than 400 residents that volunteered at the clinic, calling its success a community effort.

Frances Riley was among them.

"You wouldn't think that 12 months is a long time, but it really has felt like a long time, and not just [missing] doing things and seeing people," she said.

"People have died, so many people have died, that wouldn't have otherwise."

The Northern Health authority singled out Prince Rupert for its special community-wide vaccination campaign after a month of high, stubborn, COVID-19 infection rates.

An outbreak at Prince Rupert's Acropolis Manor long-term care facility saw 33 residents and 23 staff test positive for the virus, with 14 residents eventually dying from their illness.

"I just feel superbly hopeful now," Riley said. "That this is sort of the beginning of the end of this, really, [what has been] a bit of a nightmare."

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