The clinic at GR Baker has four stations, with each nurse able to vaccinate at least six people in an hour. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

The clinic at GR Baker has four stations, with each nurse able to vaccinate at least six people in an hour. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Quesnel vaccinations ramp up, offer ‘light at the end of the tunnel’

Northern Health to move clinic to Arena 2 April 14

Quesnel’s vaccination efforts are getting ready to ramp up.

Northern Health will move the immunization clinic at GR Baker Hospital to Arena 2 on April 14. The move will allow space for separate entrances and exits, as well as the flexibility to bring in more immunization stations. Eight to 10 nurses working eight hours per day, for instance, can immunize 400 people. If vaccine supply increases, more staff will be brought in, and shifts could expand to 12 hours.

More than 1,000 people have already vaccinated in Quesnel, with 1,400 appointments booked for the coming weeks.

“We needed a facility to host the clinic that had the capacity to be elastic, depending on the vaccine allotment we get,” COVID-19 vaccination clinic lead Vanessa Salmons said. “If we needed to ramp up to 15 nurses, to vaccinate more in a day… then we needed that space to expand.”

The move comes as more age groups are eligible for immunization in B.C. As of April 1, people over the age of 72 can book an appointment. All Indigenous people are also eligible to receive the vaccine. Eligible people are asked to call Northern Health at 1-844-255-7555 to book an appointment.

Administrative assistant Adele Worrall, who worked at a call centre, said people were “just elated, so excited” to get the shot.

“It’s a great feeling,” she said.

Health Services Administrator Daryl Petsul agreed there was “hope in the public and our staff and our physicians” as the vaccinations ramped up. He added efforts to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible have been a community affair, praising the work of the Seniors’ Society for driving people to their appointments.

“People are happy, they’re joking they’re laughing,” he said. “Going through COVID for a year with the physicians and staff, it’s been a tough year.”

READ MORE: All Indigenous adults in B.C. now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

On Thursday, April 1, four immunization stations were buzzing at the GR Baker clinic. After receiving a shot, residents would stay for 15 minutes for evaluation before leaving. The lineup at times went out the door, where chairs were distanced six feet apart to allow people to sit while they wait.

Salmons called expanded immunization efforts a “light at the end of the tunnel.”

“The senior population has been excited,” she said. “The expectation is to come five minutes before your appointment, but they’re keen and they’re coming early. The arena, with one entrance and one exit, will be optimal.”

The Arena 2 vaccination clinic will open with a drumming and smudging ceremony at 10:45 a.m. on April 14. A similar ceremony was conducted at the GR Baker clinic.

READ MORE: Dunrovin residents first to receive vaccine in Quesnel

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