Drive-thru vaccines: Northeast Calgary is set for a dose of new clinics

Details on clinic locations should come next week

The province said a drive-thru vaccine clinic would be available in northeast Calgary in early June. ALBERTA GOVERNMENT FLICKR

Calgary has seen drive-in movies and drive-thru dining. Now, residents in the northeast may see drive-thru vaccination clinics.

The Alberta government announced that a drive-thru vaccination clinic would be available to residents in NE Calgary in early June. The province also said there would be targeted clinics for businesses in the area with large workforces.

The province’s plan is the first of its kind in Alberta. It’s part of an effort to boost vaccine uptake in some areas of Calgary. 

Anila Lee Yuen, CEO of the Centre for Newcomers, said the rate of vaccination is lower in these areas because of systemic barriers, not vaccine hesitancy. She said organizations are working together to eliminate these barriers.

“We are really advocating for vaccine clinics that are walk-in, so you don’t require registration and that they are in localized areas,” Lee Yuen said.

“The idea is to be able to not have to register to get your vaccine and be very specific and very targeted to those areas in our city, especially in the northeast, where we have had lower amounts of people getting their vaccinations.”

Opportunity for wide reaching initiatives

In a press conference Thursday, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said there’s a big opportunity to increase vaccine clinics not only in the northeast, but across the city. 

“Right now, phase three is for people who really want to get the vaccine but just don’t have the luxury of grabbing an appointment next Tuesday at 2pm because they’re working. The idea of drive-thru clinics and clinics in pop up places where people are taking transit and workplaces will be very important,” said Nenshi.

Lee Yuen said their focus is on getting vaccine numbers up in the northeast part of the city.

“We’re really focusing on the highest hit areas of COVID with the lowest vaccine uptake. That, unfortunately, is northeast Calgary,” said Lee Yuen.

Second doses are a concern for the near future

Little has been said about getting second doses to Albertans. Lee Yuen is hopeful that measures like walk-in and drive-thru vaccine clinics will remain when it’s time to deliver the second vaccine in northeast Calgary.

“The barriers won’t change, right? People’s shift work isn’t going to change. People’s ability to have reliable access to the internet and technology and transportation and all those things probably isn’t going to change within a 12-week time period,” said Lee Yuen.

The government release didn’t say how second doses would be delivered in areas living in areas of low uptake.  

In Thursday’s provincial update, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said second doses were essential and an integral part of Alberta’s overall plan.

“We are looking closely at our available supplies and shipments and we expect to be in a position soon to shorten the wait time between first and second doses,” she told reporters.

“We will outline how this rollout will occur as early as next week.”

Some details still to come

Despite the good news that the latest development brings, many details still need to be finalized.

Lee Yuen is hoping the number of clinics and site locations will be announced early next week. 

She also holds out hope that an all-night clinic will be approved. This would allow shift workers early morning shots when it was most convenient. 

“A lot of these models have been tried in Toronto and other places in the country. We’re working collaboratively with them to see how we can improve upon some of their learnings as well,” she said.

“We’re really excited that so many people can come together and collaborate this way to be able to remove these barriers for the most vulnerable people in our community.”

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