Frontline workers on Vancouver Island waiting to get their COVID-19 vaccinations will begin to receive them next week, according to Island Health.
Employers of prioritized workers, including teachers and other in-school staff, firefighters, police and RCMP and daycare staff, started receiving information this week on how their employees can book an appointment for a vaccination.
Booking is expected to commence Saturday, with appointments taking place next week.
The vaccination program runs separately from the province’s age-based cohort, but workers will still need to register through the Get Vaccinated online portal.
Island Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick said the vaccinations are tied to an “abundance” of vaccines coming into Canada in the next week.
“We do hope to have them all immunized…within the next three weeks or approximately mid-May,” said Stanwick.
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He said he expects there will be around 18,000 people in the Island Health region who qualify as prioritized essential workers outside of the age-based program.
Because Island Health hasn’t been considered a COVID-19 “hot spot” the way regions like Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health have, it has lagged behind the essential worker vaccination programs in those regions.
For example, said Stanwick, “to date we’ve had almost…no transmissions to law enforcement from them being in active duty in the community, nevertheless, the risk is there and they deserve to be protected.”
But other essential workplaces like schools and daycares have seen exposures and in some cases, clusters of the virus.
“So what we really want to do is one, keep those essential services going, but afford the workers an additional level of protection through the vaccine,” said Stanwick.
Workers will receive a code from their employers in order to register and will receive their vaccinations at the same clinics that people participating in the age-based cohort system go to, he said.