Vials of Pfizer-BioNTech are displayed at the counter at the Terrace Sportsplex during phase two of B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization campaign in March. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Vials of Pfizer-BioNTech are displayed at the counter at the Terrace Sportsplex during phase two of B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization campaign in March. (Black Press Media File Photo)

COVID-19 vaccination rates lag in Terrace area

Northern Health planning future clinics for Terrace that would use a ‘roving vaccine team’

The COVID-19 vaccination rate in the Terrace local health area (LHA) for people aged 12 and over is one of the lowest in the northwest, but public health officials are not particularly concerned.

According to the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) on July 12, the rate of people aged 12 and older with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the Terrace area is 72 per cent.

That figure places Terrace below most of its neighbouring LHAs. Kitimat leads the northwest at 85 per cent, followed by Haida Gwaii at 83 per cent, Prince Rupert at 80 per cent, Upper Skeena at 76 per cent, and Nisga’a at 75 per cent.

The Smithers LHA has a comparatively low rate, currently at 65 per cent.

Eryn Collins, spokesperson for Northern Health, said that the Terrace city centre and Terrace rural community health service areas make up the LHA, and there is a discrepancy between the vaccine rates within the city itself and outlying areas.

Terrace city centre has a 75 per cent vaccination for one dose and 50 per cent for two doses. Terrace rural is at 68 per cent for one dose and 45 per cent for a second dose.

“We’re looking at smaller populations, even slight changes in the number of people being immunized can really have a big impact on the overall percentages,” Collins said.

“To get to get Terrace rural from 68 to 75 per cent for first dose, we’d only need another 500 people to get their first vaccine … 600 more people in Terrace city centre, the city would hit 80 per cent as other nearby communities have done.”

Collins said the difference between urban and rural vaccination rates could be attributed to ease of access to mass vaccination clinics, which is something Northern Health is planning to address later this summer.

The health authority is planning future clinics for Terrace that would use a “roving vaccine team,” with the details still to be worked out.

“Now we’re turning our attention to being creative or improving outreach and access to give people more opportunities to be immunized, whether access has been an issue for them, or simple convenience, holding alternate clinic formats like walk ins and drive throughs and pop ups at farmers’ markets, just to make it as low barrier and convenient as possible.”

READ MORE: B.C. reaches 80% of adult COVID-19 vaccinations Tuesday