Ralph Cole receives the first of two vaccinations from Fay Breck at the South Cariboo Health Centre. (Patrick Davies photos - 100 Mile Free Press)

Confusion during vaccine roll-out in 100 Mile House

100 Mile House starts vaccinations for people over the age of 80 this week.

  • Mar. 24, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Several 100 Mile House residents have erroneously booked vaccine appointments outside their prescribed age slots following a mix-up by a call centre working with Interior Health.

Interior Health said the call centre had mistakenly included 100 Mile House in a list of small communities, including Clinton, in the Cariboo-Chilcotin that were being opened up for appointments to everyone over the age of 18. Interior Health said it is now reviewing what to do with those under the age of 80 in 100 Mile House who have made vaccine appointments for as early as this week.

“There was a mixup with the call centre and some people were erroneously told 100 Mile House was included,” Interior Health said in an email to the Free Press.

The mix-up occurred as Interior Health started phase two of its vaccination plan, which includes seniors living in the community. They began offering the vaccine to 90-year-olds last week and 80-year-olds this week – just a little over after the first COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown in B.C.

Ralph Cole, 87, was one of the first seniors to get his Pfizer vaccination at the South Cariboo Health Centre and said he was happy to get it.

READ MORE: Mix-up results in confusion over vaccine bookings in 100 Mile House

Cole, a 25-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force, has been living in Watch Lake for 28 years, enjoying the chance to fish, see wildlife and live the Cariboo lifestyle. He said he got the vaccine to be safe and return to the new normal, whatever it may be.

“I’m hoping that things will clear up and I can see my family again, my boys. One is in Ontario and the other is in Florida, so it’s going to be a while until we get together again,” Cole said

Cole said it was easy getting the shot and added those who don’t get the vaccine are fooling themselves and endangering others.

Rochelle Lamont, public health nurse team leader for Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, Ashcroft, Lillooet and Merritt, said vaccinations have been going smoothly and quickly. She has been ordering vaccination clinics for these communities since December 2020 and started vaccinating healthcare workers in long-term care facilities followed by residents of care homes such Fischer Place, those living in assisted living facilities and frontline staff.

Lamont said she expects they will open up vaccinations to younger age groups starting in April.

“We are so excited to be doing this. The fact that we got a vaccine so soon and really well researched, the fact that all that bureaucracy and red tape was moved aside so we could get that vaccine to the people quicker, it’s amazing,” Lamont said. “We’re ecstatic. We’re so happy to be doing this for our communities. The atmosphere from people when they come to these clinics is just joyful and we’re joyful.”

The clinics have been using both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines interchangeably based on what’s been available, Lamont said. Both are two-dose series, which means in 16 weeks those getting vaccinated this month will receive a second shot.

Meanwhile, those in smaller communities will likely all be vaccinated this month. In the Cariboo-Chilcotin, Interior Health has opened up clinics to everyone over 18 in Clinton on April 15-19, as well as Horsefly, Big Lake Ranch, Tatla Lake and Alexis Creek.

“These communities were chosen due to their small population, distance to a large centre or remote location. Vaccination clinics are being held here with broader age cohorts to efficiently immunize the population,” Interior Health said. “This avoids the need of immunizers returning multiple times to a community with a small population.”

People in those communities will be asked to provide identification to prove they reside in the applicable region and should make an appointment in advance by calling 1-877-740-7747, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.

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