The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) has announced that all Indigenous people in B.C. aged 18 and up are now eligible to register for a COVID-19 vaccine at one of the province’s mass vaccination clinics.
According to the FNHA, this provides an opportunity for First Nations who live away from home to be vaccinated on a priority basis.
It also serves as an additional option for any Indigenous people that live in First Nations communities, but have not yet received their first vaccine.
The announcement comes on the heels of the FNHA highlighting that residents of all First Nations communities across the province have been offered a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — A “major milestone,” according to Richard Jock, CEO of the First Nations Health Authority.
The FNHA emphasizes that Indigenous people and communities are being prioritized for vaccinations because “they face higher risks for infection and serious illness.”
READ MORE: People born in or before 1949 can now book their vaccine appointments
Beginning this week, callers who self-identify as Indigenous (status or non-status First Nations, Metis or Inuit) can register over the phone. For Indigenous people on Vancouver Island, vaccines can be booked through Island Health’s hotline at 1-833-348-4787.
At this time, only Indigenous people who have yet to receive their first vaccine can register at a mass vaccination clinic. Any individual who has already received a jab in the arm is currently unable to book their second dose.
“The acceleration of the vaccination program in B.C. means that an estimated 14 per cent of all eligible British Columbians have already been vaccinated,” said the FNHA in a written statement.
“Despite this good news, we know that COVID-19 cases are once again rising in B.C. Medical officers at the FNHA are encouraging everyone—even those who have already been vaccinated—to continue wearing masks, washing their hands, physically distancing wherever possible, and following public health orders from Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer.”
The First Nations Health Authority is also encouraging communities to continue following the recent three-week restrictions implemented this week by the B.C. government.
The health authority adds it is equally important to continue to follow public health advice to wear masks, wash hands frequently, and stay physically distanced, even after getting the vaccine.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has gone on for over a year, and at various times we have been asked to do more in terms of protecting ourselves, our families and communities. This is one of those times. With cases on the rise, especially among younger people, we are imploring you to follow the orders for this three-week ‘circuit breaker,'” said FNHA deputy chief medical officer, Dr. Nel Wieman.
“Please spend the upcoming holiday weekend safely. We have flattened the curve before and we can do it again.”
Any Indigenous people who are looking to book a vaccine at one of the mass immunization clinics and are uncertain which health authority they reside in are encouraged to double-check online.
For the rest of the province, health officials are now taking registrations from people who were born in or 1949.