Members of the Island Health team Carlee Bushell (back row left), Dr. Mike Benusic, Charlotte Brown, Kaylee Gray, Matt Erickson (front row left) and Mike Munro in front of the health authority’s new mobile vaccination clinic, the Vax Van. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Members of the Island Health team Carlee Bushell (back row left), Dr. Mike Benusic, Charlotte Brown, Kaylee Gray, Matt Erickson (front row left) and Mike Munro in front of the health authority’s new mobile vaccination clinic, the Vax Van. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Island Health’s mobile first-vaccination clinic making its way to Nanaimo

Vax Van aims to reach vaccine-hesitant people age 18 to 40

Vancouver Island Health Authority’s new mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinic has hit the road to try to connect with people who have put off getting their first dose.

For the next three weeks, the health authority’s Vax Van will be reaching communities across Vancouver Island.

Starting with a stop Thursday, July 22, from 2 to 7 p.m. in front of Country Grocer on Cowichan Bay Road in Cobble Hill, the van will make subsequent stops in Duncan neat Canadian Tire on Green Road from 2 to 7 p.m. July 23.

The Vax Van will be in Nanaimo on July 25 at Maffeo Sutton Park (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), July 26 at Chase River Country Grocery (2 to 7 p.m.) and July 27 at Westwood Lake (2 to 7 p.m.).

Over the weeks, the authority will announce stops in Port Alberni, Parksville Oceanside, Comox Valley, Campbell River, Langford and Sooke on their Easy Access Clinics page.

Since the beginning of Island Health’s vaccine rollout in December, “we knew that there would come a time where we would have to go to people to vaccinate them, rather than having people come to us,” said medical health officer Dr. Mike Benusic. With 80 per cent of Island residents 12 and over having received their first dose, Benusic said most holdouts would be willing to take the first jab if it was brought closer to them.

READ ALSO: Island Health surpasses one million COVID-19 immunizations

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The intended demographic are people 18 to 40, whose first-dose vaccination rates are less robust than those 40 and up.

Cowichan Valley West has the lowest percentage of people 12 and older with one shot, with only 70 per cent as of July 20, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. Comox Valley sat at 78 per cent, while Greater Nanaimo has reached 79 per cent. Greater Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula lead first dose vaccination rates with 87 and 89 per cent, respectively.

“We decided that this would be a good strategy to make it really easy and convenient for people to get their first doses,” Benusic said of the mobile program.

The van is essentially a mass vaccination site brought down to a miniature scale, he said. Fifty-four doses will be stored for transit in a plug-in Mobicool cooler and placed in two smaller Coleman coolers. According to public health nurse Charlotte Brown, the protocol follows all standards set by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.


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CoronavirusvaccinesVancouver Island Health Authority