Residents of Terrace, B.C. scheduled to receive COVID-19 vaccines Friday now have to wait until next week after Northern Health cancelled a day's worth of appointments due to what they characterize as "dwindled" interest among older age groups in the community.
Kirsten Fehr, a Kitsumkalum Nation resident of the northwestern B.C. city, didn't find out her shot was cancelled until she showed up at the Terrace Sportsplex to find a sign on the door saying the clinic was closed.
"Frustrated," she said of her reaction. "I had to organize a babysitter in order to attend this appointment and I was looking forward to starting the process of immunization."
Currently anyone in Terrace aged 65 and up can book an appointment to be vaccinated, but Northern Health says only those in the 70 and up age range, or 18 and up for Indigenous residents, are actually receiving doses at the moment.
"Appointment bookings in this age group ... had dwindled this week, and the decision was made to cancel today's clinic and reschedule any booked appointments into next week's clinics," Northern Health said in an email and Facebook post, responding to residents upset by the change.
The health authority did not clarify why other appointments were not moved up, or other age groups invited to be vaccinated sooner, rather than cancelling a day's worth of inoculations.
"We have always said, in small communities in the north, clinic details will be subject to change," spokesperson Eryn Collins said in an email. "No vaccine goes to waste — it is all used in line with the provincial plan."
Fehr said she had to call to reschedule her appointment and is now supposed to receive her dose on Wednesday — five days later than originally planned.
Terrace resident Walter Fricke said he is frustrated by the decision to cancel appointments rather than attempt to fill up empty slots with younger age groups.
"I know several people who could have been there in less than half an hour," he said in an email.
The health authority says moving forward, they will be operating the clinic from Tuesday until Thursday, with a goal of 1,000 shots a week.
On Friday, B.C. health officials announced 1,262 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths in the province.
So far, 1,025,019 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 87,606 of those being second doses. A record high 40,018 people were vaccinated in B.C. on Thursday.