West Coasters waiting for their COVID-19 vaccine booster shot don’t have many more pages of their calendar to turn.
COVID-19 booster doses are underway for the West Coast’s vulnerable and at-risk residents, including First Nations as well as long-term care and assisted living residents.
The general population is expected to begin receiving booking invitations for their booster shots in January, according to Tofino mayor Dan Law.
“If you’ve got your two vaccine doses already, then you do not reach out to Island Health at all, they will reach out to you with the contact information that they have on file,” Law told the Westerly News, adding that the booster shots will be done by appointment only. “Island Health is going to reach out to everybody and invite them to get a booster dose when it’s suitable.”
The West Coast received community-wide vaccination clinics for second doses in June and walk-in clinics are ongoing.
Law urges anyone eligible to be vaccinated that has not yet received their first or second shot to take advantage of their town’s next clinic. Walk-in vaccination clinics for first and second doses will be held at the Ucluelet Community Centre on Nov. 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the next clinic in Tofino is scheduled for Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m at the Coastal Family Place, 265 First Street.
“Compared to fully vaccinated people, those who are unvaccinated are nine times more likely to test positive for COVID-19, 43 times more likely to go to the hospital and 36 times more likely to die from COVID-19,” he said. “The vaccines are saving lives. The only way to combat this pandemic is through widespread vaccinations. We can’t have lockdowns, we can’t have restrictions on movement for very long without larger and significant impacts to social life and the economy. Ultimately, you get the vaccine because it reduces the chance of severe disease and mortality and it saves lives.”
He said it’s unlikely that COVID-19 will ever be completely eradicated, but added that he’s been impressed by the speed that health officials have tackled the pandemic.
“The great thing is the remarkable advances in vaccine science and production. One of the things that’s come out of COVID-19 is a tremendous leap ahead in science. The ability to understand a disease, map the gene and create a vaccine to combat it is lightyears ahead of where it was three years ago,” he said. “To me, one of the lights at the end of the tunnel is that the new vaccine technology is just so remarkable and effective and I think what will happen is that it will spill over into other diseases that we’ve been fighting for many years. This vaccine technology will actually help countries across the world combat other diseases much more efficiently, faster and better.”