Smiles, whoops as Arrow Lakes residents get vaccine jab

·4 min read

Nearly 500 residents of the West Kootenay are a lot safer from the COVID-19 virus after a community vaccination clinic held in Fauquier last week.

The two-day clinic, held at the community hall, saw residents 18 and older from Fauquier, Edgewood and Burton and area getting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Inside the busy hall six nurses worked steadily at work stations, while residents getting the vaccine whooped with triumph and threw socially-distanced high-fives to other locals in the after-jab waiting area.

“We got our shots, yahoo!” said Ian Golds. “Now that we’re finally vaccinated, we’ll be able to see our kids and grandkids, who we haven’t seen for almost a year. We know we still have to wear masks for the next couple of weeks, but after that we should have a little freedom here.”

For local Ken Rogers, getting the shot was a long time coming.

“It’s awesome, I’m glad we’re getting it done. The sooner we get rid of this thing the better off we’re all going to be. We can start travelling again, getting back to normal,” he told the Valley Voice. While the region hasn’t had many cases of COVID to begin with, Rogers thinks it will still help. “It’s going to make it easier for everybody, a little safer. It will make you feel a little less anxious around other people.”

Many residents praised how easy and efficient the process was.

“I really appreciate the opportunity that they presented us here in the community,” said Annette Huyter. “I think it was well organized. It was incredibly smooth coming in, very streamlined and a very quick, simple process.”

Local Interior Health Public Health Nurse Linda Nero, who was busy preparing shots for the other staff to administer, gave high praise to the community volunteers for coming to help out.

“We have some amazing volunteers here – they are busy directing people, cleaning surfaces, and we’re good!” she said. “Everyone has pulled together. It’s been an amazing turnout.

“It’s been very positive, a great uptake of the product, and the sooner we get people protected, the sooner we can go back to some kind of normality, whatever that may look like.”

It didn’t go completely smoothly, however. Wi-Fi troubles on the first day snarled computers, slowing the process slightly. But with the help of Edgewood resident Bill Dummett, who lent the hall a Wi-Fi booster, the problem was cleared up for the second day.

In total about 480 residents of the southern Arrow Lakes communities were vaccinated. As the province ramps up its vaccination schedule, more West Kootenay residents will get the opportunity to get their shot.

In the North Slocan Valley, Mayor Leonard Casley announced an all-ages vaccine clinic would be held on April 19 and 20 at the Silverton Memorial Hall for the area from Hills to Enterprise Creek to Sandon. An all-ages clinic is also scheduled for Slocan Park for April 23. Interior Health was taking bookings for that clinic earlier this week. Officials say more all-ages clinics are in the works for the Valley Voice readership area, though details were not available at press time.

In other communities, the rollout of vaccinations scheduled by age have also begun. Residents of Nakusp, Kaslo and New Denver over 70 are now booking their appointments. Check the Interior Health Facebook or webpage for more information on when you can book.

Having now received their first shot, residents of the Edgewood-Burton area will have to return to the hall in four months’ time for their booster. And people who missed last week’s clinic should keep an eye on local notice boards for word on future opportunities.

In the meantime, many are just happy for the level of protection they have now.

“I feel we are blessed to get the shot,” said Tina Newell, relaxing in the waiting area after getting her jab. “It’s a more secure feeling, in helping us get through this. This is the light at the end of the tunnel.”

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice