Individuals whose vaccination appointments were cancelled due to the hot weather will be able to rebook them soon at a handful of Island Health clinics.
Island Health announced that they will be rebooking COVID-19 vaccine appointments at Eagle Ridge and Gabriola Island vaccine clinics for June 28.
The health authority said in a statement Sunday afternoon the appointments will be rebooked to protect patients and staff as well as their vaccination supplies. It comes as Victoria recorded its hottest day in recorded history with temperatures hitting 37 C.
In an earlier statement, Island Health said only Eagle Ridge Arena and Archie Browning Sports Centre would be affected and only afternoon appointments would be rebooked.
“Despite mitigation measures, the high temperatures and lack of air conditioning could impact the safety of patients, staff, and our vaccine supply if these sites remain open,” said Island Health in a statement Sunday. “Island Health made the decision to rebook all appointments at the Eagle Ridge Arena and Gabriola Community Centre on June 28, and all appointments after 12:00 p.m. on June 28 at Archie Browning Sports Centre.”
Dr. Mike Benusic, the physician lead for mass vaccination with Island Health, told CHEK News that they aim to keep temperatures below 30 C at the immunization clinics, but it’s been challenging to do that for some facilities that don’t have built-in air conditioning.
“We just can’t bring them down to a level where it’s actually a safe environment for the public, for our staff, and to ensure that we’re providing vaccines to people that haven’t been compromised by the heat,” he said.
He said staff brought in fans, portable air conditioners and set up tents outside, but it wasn’t enough to keep the clinics cool.
“One thing we even did for Langford this morning is we had the local fire department come and spray the top of the building to try and cool it down,” Dr. Benusic said.
He said the closures and measures are preventative, adding that no vaccine has been wasted, nor will the cancelled appointments have an impact on the vaccine rollout as residents who are affected will be contacted to schedule another appointment at a different facility as soon as possible.
“So we increase capacity at those sites where, as we know, we have excellent air conditioning and we can keep them open through the heatwave,” he said.
Island Health acknowledged how frustrating it might be and apologized for the inconvenience.
“We ask for patience and understanding as we move through the effects of this extreme weather event,” read the statement.
There have not been any changes planned at any other vaccination clinics at this time, according to Island Health.
Island Health has more information on how to stay safe in the heat here.