COVID vaccine bus stops at U of C to increase immunization among students

Albertans aged 18-29 have the lowest vaccination rate of those eligible to get the COVID-19 shot

A man wearing a mask poses in front of a mobile vaccine clinic
Denton De Mesa, a nurse with the vaccine bus, poses outside of the mobile clinic. (OMAR SHERIF / LIVEWIRE CALGARY)

The latest stop on Alberta’s vaccine bus route is the University of Calgary.

In an effort to fully immunize people between the ages of 18-29, the mobile vaccination clinic will be onsite at the university on Sept. 1, 2, 8 and 9.

The bus, which is run by 19 to Zero, a coalition focused on shifting public behaviours to help end COVID-19, and the Industry for Vaccination Coalition, can accommodate 300 vaccinations per day.

As the Delta variant continues an increased rate of infection in young people, the group hopes the mobile vaccination clinic’s presence will help increase vaccine confidence among its student body.

“Young people have sacrificed so much over the last 19 months,” said Dr. Jia Hu, Chair of 19 to Zero and Clinical Assistant Professor in the department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary.

“By increasing vaccination rates among students on campus, we can move towards safe in-person learning and on-campus experiences.”

And students seem to be taking the opportunity seriously.

“We’re in the fourth wave now,” said U of C student Mahirr Ruprel, who received his second dose on the bus on Wednesday.

“It’s now becoming the pandemic of those who are not vaccinated, so I feel like everyone needs to get the vaccine to be safe.”

Mahirr Ruprel (left) receives his second COVID-19 vaccination on the vaccine bus stationed at the U of C Campus (OMAR SHERIF / LIVEWIRE CALGARY)

Fighting vaccine hesitancy

Fifty-four per cent of those aged 18 to 29 are fully vaccinated, making this demographic the most vaccine-hesitant out of all age groups in Alberta.

While the fourth wave continues to take its toll on Canada’s healthcare system, current data showcases that COVID-19 mostly infects unvaccinated populations.

With the mobile clinic on campus, the coalition hopes to break barriers and ease access for the students to get vaccinated.

“By being here today at the University of Calgary, we’re hoping to reduce those access barriers and make it super easy for people to come out and get vaccinated,” said Madison Fullerton with the vaccine bus.

While she believes there’s still a lot of work to be done to get people in that age group vaccinated, she’s hopeful that the vaccine bus will be a significant help.

Since 9 a.m. on Sept. 1 there had been a steady flow of people walking in to get their shot.

As well as that, Fullerton said around 30 people booked appointments ahead of time.

The bus will be on campus between 12 and 4 p.m. on Sept. 2, 8, and 9.

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