Parksville outreach worker pleads for COVID-19 vaccines in remote bush camps

Parksville outreach worker pleads for COVID-19 vaccines in remote bush camps

Outreach worker Kelly Morris received the COVID-19 vaccine in Port Alberni Friday but remained worried for her homeless clients.

People, she said, are so fearful of going to vaccination clinics that they need nurses to come to them.

“We have a homeless population all over Parksville and Qualicum and they’re not being vaccinated because they won’t come to where the nurses want them to come to,” said Kelly Morris, a peer support worker based in the Parksville area.

A temporary vaccination clinic at the Port Alberni Friendship Centre was set up on Friday to access the vulnerable population, as COVID-19 variants and cases surge.

“We’re just working really hard on providing clinics here at the friendship centre for people at risk,” said Port Alberni Friendship Centre Program Director, Darlene Leonew.

Morris said more pop-up clinics like the one at the friendship centre in Port Alberni, are needed.

“Once it gets in the camps or on the street, we’re asking for a whole pandemic to spread. We can prevent this from spreading,” said Morris.

“We need to get it done. People need to get vaccinated,” added Leonew.

Vancouver Island’s remote bush camps made headlines in November 2020, when three people were found murdered in burned-out RV’s in the woods behind Whiskey Creek. According to Morris, there are roughly 16 camps between Whiskey Creek and Parksville.

She said that over 200 people in those camps are neither following COVID-19 guidelines or seeking vaccines.

“All we need is one nurse to come with me to those 16 bush camps to get these people vaccine,” said Morris.

According to Island Health, vaccines became available to those living unsheltered beginning on March 3, but teams are open to further communications with outreach workers about how those in need can be reached.

As Morris said, the threat of COVID-19 spreading in the woods grows by the day.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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