The Terrace Sportsplex was bustling with activity on the first day of Northern Health’s phase two COVID-19 vaccine roll out, as nurses administered shots to senior residents.
Kitsumkalum First Nation matriarch Sharon Bryant gave her blessing in Sm’algyax to officially open the vaccination clinic in the morning. Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc and council were also present for the opening ceremony.
Around 850 people booked appointments for the clinic this week, which started offering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for seniors over 80 and Indigenous people over 65 years on Mar. 23.
The vaccination drive will continue for the next four days until Mar. 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Terrace Sportsplex.
“Everything is organized quick and you’re all done,” said Ron Anderson, an 81-year-old Terrace resident, after getting vaccinated.
“You don’t even feel the needle, it’s pretty simple, not like the old days,” he said.
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In the Hidber Arena, nurses unofficially called “drawer-uppers” prepared doses of the vaccine by mixing vials with 1.8 millilitres of saline solution, creating six 0.3 millilitre doses per vial. Then, it was brought to one of the six spaced out vaccination stations where nurses administer the shots.
Vicki Niemi, a nurse, came out of retirement to help administer vaccines to her community members. Niemi was the manager of the emergency department at Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace.
“It’s going really well, everyone is excited to receive the vaccine and it’s been really well received,” she said.
In total, the clinic is able to vaccinate around 220 people per day using 36 vials of vaccine. People receiving the vaccine first check-in at a reception area in the lobby before entering the rink.
Prior to vaccinating residents, nurses go through a medical history checklist with them to check for contraindication and give them information about the vaccine they are about to receive.
After getting the shot, vaccinated residents wait in a physically-distanced observation area for 15 minutes so they can be monitored in case they experience any side effects, and then exit through a back door into the parking lot.
Jenice Wright, the security guard who was manning the exit door of the vaccination centre in the morning. said that people coming out after getting their shots seem to be “relaxed” and “excited.”
She said seniors exiting the arena after getting their shots told her that they were looking forward to spending time with their family and loved ones.
Northern Health is now taking calls from people born in or before 1944 and Indigenous peoples born in or before 1966 at 1-844-255-7555 for the next round of vaccine bookings. For the latest vaccination schedule and information, visit Northern Health’s COVID-19 vaccine plan webpage.