Teachers from SD42 and other districts in the Lower Mainland flocked to Surrey on Tuesday in the hopes of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. (Sheelagh Brothers/Twitter)

Teachers from SD42 and other districts in the Lower Mainland flocked to Surrey on Tuesday in the hopes of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. (Sheelagh Brothers/Twitter)

Pandemic

Don’t line up for vaccines unless asked to come, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

Social media post shows teachers lining up outside of Surrey clinic for leftover doses

B.C.’s top doctor says people shouldn’t line up for possible leftover vaccines, “unless you have been asked to come.”

In Thursday’s (April 8) briefing from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, she said “there’s a plan with every clinic for every dose,” depending on who’s there, how many doses are drawn up and how many doses are thawed “so that we can use up every dose” when asked about people who are lining up in the hopes of getting a vaccine.

“There (are) people who are on standby to come in and be booked in if there’s no-shows, if it looks like there’s going to be doses at the end of the day,” Henry added.

This comes after a teacher in New Westminster, Sheelagh Brothers, posted on Twitter on April 6 that teachers were standing in line at a clinic in Surrey in the hopes of getting a vaccine.

“The catch: we don’t teach in Surrey. There are no clinics set up yet in New West, Langley, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Vancouver. They have vaccines here. We’d like some protection please,” her tweet reads.

B.C. Ministry of Health spokesperson Marielle Tounsi said in an emailed statement to Black Press Media that “in order to minimize any wastage at end of day, pharmacists are encouraged to vaccinate any age-eligible patients with remaining doses.”

Brothers told the Now-Leader she first received a message from a colleague last Friday (April 2) that they had gone and managed to get a leftover vaccine. By the time she got there, she was unable to get a vaccine.

She tried again April 6 at a different vaccine clinic in Surrey.

“By the time I got to the location, I was told the rules had changed,” said Brothers. “For some reason, somehow, somebody got word you could get a shot and they were successful.

“The word is spreading rapidly.”

Brothers said it’s “a little frustrating” as her husband has two auto-immune diseases and is high risk.

“It matters if I bring it home. Not that it doesn’t matter to anybody, but he’s at a much higher risk,” said Brothers, adding her husband has since received his first dose which “takes away a tiny bit of fear.”

RELATED: SD42 teachers race to Surrey for leftover COVID vaccines, April 9, 2021

Henry said there are plans for any potential leftover doses, adding “we will be targeting the people who can’t work from home, our frontline workers program will be getting going again over and above the outbreak response that we continue to do.”

“Please don’t line up. I am reassured by my colleagues across the province that there are plans and the plans often involve things like taking any end of day doses to the emergency department, to the hospital to a local place where we know that there’s a need still.”

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine priority groups alleviate concerns for Surrey frontline workers, March 20, 2021

RELATED: B.C. emergency, grocery, school staff get COVID-19 vaccine starting April, March 18, 2021

In March, the province announced K-12 educators would be included in vaccine priority groups.

Within a few days, Surrey school district superintendent Jordan Tinney announced all Surrey K-12 school-based staff would be the first of the priority groups to be vaccinated, starting March 24.

The hope was all Surrey educators would have their first dose by April 1.

READ ALSO: Surrey teachers to be vaccinated by April 1, March 22, 2021

Ritinder Matthew, Surrey school district spokesperson, said that between the Surrey school district and independent schools, 10,919 staff had been vaccinated by end of day April 4. The “vast majority” of those were Surrey school district staff.

She added there is “still a few additional staff” that need to be vaccinated, but the “numbers are really small.”

Matthew noted “a lot of people wanted to get immunized,” adding that staff were very excited and thankful to be included.

Brothers said she hasn’t heard any other news about when those mentioned in the priority groups will be vaccinated.

“I was very excited to hear K-12 education staff was on that list,” she said, but added there has since been “very little communication, if any,” since the AstraZeneca vaccine was taken off the table for the priority groups.

Since Surrey has been “hit super hard” by the virus, Brothers said she was “thrilled” to hear Surrey educators would be getting vaccinations.

But she added there are “lots of there schools in Fraser Health that have a fair number of cases.”

“We’re anxious. I’m anxious.”



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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