Vancouver Coastal Health is rolling out a free trial shuttle bus next week to help North Vancouver residents get to their vaccination appointments.
VCH has partnered with TransLink to offer the shuttle service, which will run from Monday (March 29) to Thursday (April 1), between Capilano Mall and the ICBC Test Collection Site.
Bob Chapman, interim vice president of Vancouver Community VCH and one of the vaccine rollout leads, said the shuttle trial was in response to community feedback that bus transportation to the North Vancouver COVID-19 immunization clinic would be helpful to many residents.
“We've had feedback from a number of people asking us for increased access to the vaccination clinic through transit,” he said. “So, we decided that we would explore opportunities for us to do a partnership with TransLink to get them bus access right to the site.”
To keep with provincial health officer protocols and social distancing guidelines, the shuttle bus will only transport 12 people at a time to the clinic.
The service will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every 15 minutes, until 3:15 p.m., from the pick-up location at the main entrance of Capilano Mall on Hanes Avenue, where a temporary bus stop will be posted. Once residents have received their shot, they can then take the free shuttle back to the mall, from the ICBC Test Collection Site drop-off location, at 255 Lloyd Avenue.
Popular clinic gets a positive response from seniors
The North Vancouver clinic can accommodate hundreds of vaccinations per day, according to VCH, and the vast majority of those bookings are filled.
Chapman described the clinic as “very popular.”
“It's very well utilized, and very busy,” he said. “It is running every day and it's one of our clinics that will continue through the whole campaign, right into early fall.”
While the clinic has been busy, Chapman said residents coming through the doors have been in high spirits.
“We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from people,” he said. “Some of them are very chatty and want to tell us about what the last few months have been like for them. Some of them have expressed that they haven't been out of their home very much. So, they're not just coming to get a vaccine, they're really coming to have an outing and actually are very, very appreciative of being able to receive their vaccine.”
VCH sends reminder to eligible residents to book vaccine appointment
On Friday afternoon, VCH announced that North Shore residents who are 75 years of age and older, born in 1947 or earlier, and Indigenous peoples, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, who are 55 years of age and older, born in 1966 or earlier, are now eligible to call up to book their first vaccine dose.
“It’s very exciting to be able to immunize so many of our seniors in the public and to be getting through the different age cohorts at a fairly rapid pace,” Chapman said.
VCH is also sending a reminder to eligible adults on the North Shore to phone up and make their appointments. Chapman said they were calling on family members, friends, neighbours, and social services agencies to help reach eligible people in the community to send them a gentle reminder and help them to book their vaccinations.
“It's really important for the whole community to get out and support their seniors and ask them if they've had difficulty making the appointment or getting to the appointment,” he said. “We really want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to get a vaccine if they would like it.”
VCH will evaluate the shuttle trial and revisit continuing the service if it’s well-received.
“If it’s meeting people's needs and helping them get their vaccinations and get to the clinic, it's certainly a win for us,” Chapman said.
The VCH appointment booking toll-free phone line, 1-877-587-5767, is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
Before calling, VCH asks people to have a pen and paper on hand, along with their personal health number, full name, date of birth, postal code and phone number. More information about the process can be found on their website.
Anyone who is unsure about the vaccination is encouraged to speak to their family doctor or their nurse practitioner.