Kelowna’s first COVID-19 vaccine clinic opens

Pamela Forsythe receives her Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine alongside her 101-year-old mother, Mary Cole-Minett. (Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News)Pamela Forsythe receives her Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine alongside her 101-year-old mother, Mary Cole-Minett. (Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News)
Colin Cameron, 91, receives his Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (Phil McLachlan - West K News)Colin Cameron, 91, receives his Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (Phil McLachlan - West K News)
Interior Health nurse Joey Willis fills a needle with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. (Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News)Interior Health nurse Joey Willis fills a needle with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. (Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News)

The atmosphere is relaxed and optimistic as Kelowna’s seniors rolled up their sleeves to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccination clinic opened up on March 15 at Trinity Church, where about 30 stations were set up for residents to receive their shots.

Interior Health (IH) director of primary care Deborah Preston said people have remained calm as they arrived at the clinic, with many seniors saying they were happy to finally be vaccinated.

“(There’s) lots of optimism, people are happy to get the shot. I’ve heard there’s a few tears of hope,” she said.

Since Monday, Preston said they have seen around 600 people receive their first dose, with each station seeing about eight to 10 people an hour.

She said IH continues to prepare to open more clinics to accommodate more locations.

“We have some staff training so we can have them support us as we increase our clinics,” Preston said.

“We’ll have this clinic here at Trinity and we will be having clinics in West Kelowna starting next week and in Lake Country for one day a week.”

Currently, IH is vaccinating Indigenous people 65 years or older, Indigenous elders, as well as seniors born in or before 1931.

On March 15, seniors 84 years or older were able to book and on March 16, seniors 83 years or older have started booking appointments.

Several seniors who received their vaccine on Tuesday spoke up, saying it was exciting and that it was a good experience.

“The nurse was very knowledgeable and explained (the process) extremely well…it wasn’t painful so altogether it was good,” one woman said.

Pamela Forsythe said she was very grateful to have received the vaccine despite her being from a younger age group. Arm-in-arm she walked with her 101-year-old mother, Mary Cole-Minett, to receive their vaccines.

“I look after my 101-year-old mother in our own home, and they were able to give me the shot at the same time (as her) which was great,” she said.

Another woman said she was excited for her mother to get vaccinated as this means the end of the crisis is coming.

“It’s the beginning of the end, and it feels like it’s a good path.”

Preston said she wants to encourage those who are eligible to book an appointment and to get vaccinated as soon as they are able.

“It’s something we can all do to help protect our most vulnerable and ourselves and members of our community,” she said.

READ: Small outdoor religious services will soon return for B.C. faith groups: Dr. Henry

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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