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Northeast Calgary continues vaccination efforts for second doses

Alberta has been fully reopened for just over a week, but some areas of Calgary are still focusing on getting first doses to all communities. 

Anila Lee Yeun, the CEO of Calgary’s Centre for Newcomers, has been actively involved in getting first doses of COVID vaccines to citizens in northeast Calgary for months. Thost efforts are now stretching into second doses.

Lee Yeun said the same factors that limited first doses are playing a role in distributing second doses too, but that there are measures in place to alleviate obstacles.

Since June, a number of AHS pop-up clinics throughout the northeast have been available to help bolster first dose numbers. Lee Yeun said this increased access has helped decrease some of the barriers that play a role in these communities.

“The government is still focused on first dose primarily in terms of outreach clinics. So, that becomes a little bit of a barrier as well,” said Lee Yeun.

“All these clinics that we’re doing, we’re still focusing on first doses. But there’s a lot of people that are frustrated that are still looking for this kind of assistance for second doses,”

The hope remains that more clinics will be made possible and utilize volunteers speaking a variety of languages.

Communicaton to people in east and northeast Calgary is still a focus for vaccination efforts, according to Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Sue Henry.

Second dose vaccination rates were still stubbornly low based on data presented when the city repealed its mask bylaw.

The left diagram shows the percentage of eligible citizens with the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Calgary. This data was presented last week at the mask bylaw discussion (July 5). CITY OF CALGARY

“We really need, despite the what happens today with the bylaw, we do need to double down our efforts on communications to make sure that we’re still communicating with folks how and what is needed to get vaccines to bring those numbers down,” she said.

City is the ‘backbone’ of vaccination efforts

The northeast may still be lagging behind the rest of Calgary in second dose rates. But Lee Yeun credits efforts from not only AHS but also the city in keeping vaccines readily available.

“In terms of getting us the permitting, in terms of being able to provide us with any kind of extra assistance we need, like security, and providing us with tents and anything that we need, the city has honestly been the backbone for all of this work that we’ve been doing since day one of COVID,” said Lee Yeun.

The province hasn’t said anything new about getting second doses to Albertans. The message remains the same: They’re encouraging as many eligible individuals to get their second dose as soon as possible. 

In her final live COVID update on June 29, Dr. Deena Hinshaw urged those who are able to get their shots.

“We have enough to offer all Albertans who want that second dose. They should be able to get their second dose within the coming months and that’s fantastic news,” said Dr. Hinshaw.

Focus remains on strengthening the community

For Lee Yeun, vaccine access is just one part of ensuring northeast Calgarians feel safe within their communities.

She believes there’s correlation between the isolation and fear brought by the pandemic and the sudden increase in racialized violence towards minorities. 

“As we continue to work on vaccine hesitancy, or even just vaccine outreach for people that have barriers, but also having those conversations around, how are they feeling, what are some of the things that need to happen? And then starting to focus a lot more on the advocacy around safe communities and empowering communities,” said Lee Yeun.