Mass vaccination sites planned in Surrey

Four community centres targeted for thousands of shots per day between April and November

Submitted photo

Four Surrey community centres will be used as mass COVID-19 vaccination sites, after the City of Surrey and Fraser Health Authority reached an agreement.

Surrey city council approved the proposal on Monday. The city will use portions of Clayton Recreation Centre; Cloverdale Recreation Centre; South Surrey Recreation and Arts; and (as a back-up site) Guildford Recreation Centre to inoculate thousands of people per day.

The $1.7 million “in-kind” lease agreement spans from April to November.

Surrey states the disruptions will be minimal for the community centres and some programs may need to move.

Fraser Health oversees about 1.8 million residents, including children, from Delta and Burnaby to Hope. As such up to 3.6 million shots could be administered. However, those under the age of 18 are currently not eligible for vaccinations, but that could change if more vaccines are given the green light by regulators.

“The Province of BC has established a plan to roll out the largest immunization program in the province’s history between April and September 2021 making the COVID-19 vaccine available to all eligible people living in BC who want to be immunized (approximately 4.3 million people, excluding children),” stated a city report by city manager Vincent Lalonde and parks manager Laurie Cavan.

This plan all depends on the federal government’s ability to procure vaccines.

The country has faced significant delays after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first sought China as a vaccine partner only to have that agreement fall through. Hence, Canada’s agreements with U.S. and European manufacturers were delayed. Trudeau has recently sought vaccines from India.

Compounding matters, vaccine producer Pfizer deliveries were delayed for much of January and February as it revamped its manufacturing facility in Belgium to boost production capacity.

This came at the same time vaccine producer Moderna began throttling deliveries, leaving provinces like B.C. to delay the intervals between the vaccines’ first and second doses.

Both U.S.-based vaccine producers recommend intervals of about three to four weeks between doses. B.C. initially stretched that interval to 35 days in January and then to 42 days shortly afterward.

As of February 16, 22,914 second doses have been administered in B.C., meaning approximately 0.4% of British Columbian’s have received their complete vaccination, the report notes.

Once Pfizer and Moderna meet their delivery guarantees for the first quarter of 2021, shipments are due to ramp up further as provinces engage in mass vaccination efforts.

The province’s initial plan is based on the assumption that it will only have access to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

But Canada has also ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with deliveries coming from facilities in the U.S. and potentially India.

Surrey’s roughly 600,000 residents represent a third of Fraser Health. Of the 74,283 confirmed cases in B.C., to February 16, Fraser Health continues to account for the majority of confirmed cases (43,884 or 59.1%), the city reports in its bi-weekly COVID-19 update Monday. Of the cases in Fraser Health, 88 are hospitalized, 41,151 have recovered and 722 have died since March 2020.

With files from Tyler Orton