June 14th, 2024

Weekend COVID-19 vaccination clinic offered to vulnerable population

By Dale Woodard on June 2, 2021.

Those with struggles to access vaccinations were given a walk-up chance to do so last weekend.
Partnering with the Sage Clan Patrol, Alberta Health Services set up at Galt Gardens for a two-day clinic Friday and Saturday to provide crucial shots in the arm to the vulnerable population.
“Typically, when there’s immunization access at the Exhibition Grounds (for example), the majority of the population can make appointments there. Then there are others and we have to really look at how we can provide vaccines to individuals with a variety of challenges to getting vaccines,” said Dr. Vivien Suttorp, Medical Officer of Health for the South Zone with Alberta Health Services. “Sometimes it may be people are working long hours and the clinic may not be open. So we try and make sure there’s access by having evening clinics, for example.
“In this instance AHS partnered with the Sage Clan Patrol to offer a two-day vaccination at Galt Gardens. Because we had less appointments, we were able to move staff from Exhibition grounds over to (Galt Gardens) to offer those vaccines.”
With immunization strategies in general, it could measles, influenza or COVID, said Suttorp.
“We went to the meat processing facilities – provincial and federally inspected – to try and encourage immunization on site.Why do we do school immunizations in general? Not for COVID, because we know we have better vaccine uptake there. The parent doesn’t need to leave work and go to the public health office.”
When looking for opportunities for immunization, especially during a pandemic with a serious illness circulating, Suttorp said they look for more unique outreach strategies.
“We did outreach to seniors facilities initially. We’ve gone and done outreach at Alpha House and outreach at the meat processing facilities. So how can we best immunize individuals who may have, for a variety or reasons, limited ability to access a larger centre?
“Sometimes people need a walk-in clinic, they feel sick that day, as opposed to making an appointment. So this was more that ability to walk into a local area to receive the vaccine. So it’s looking at a priority population with a variety of risk factors and trying to innovate creative and safe means to offer immunization to those individuals.”
In the case of the last weekend’s clinic at Galt Gardens, Suttorp said they typically don’t see big numbers.
“But it mushrooms,” she said. “People get the vaccine and (realize) there was nothing to it and others will get the vaccine as well.”
Suttorp said there will be more initiatives partnering with other community organizations.
“(It’)s trying to identify a little bit more across the province where we have lower immunization rates and why and how can we support (them). Is access an issue? Do we need longer hours or do we need transporation? To understand the ‘why’ and then to target some of our immunization strategy.”

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