A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. Northern Health confirmed it has the lowest vaccination rates amongst the province’s five regional health authorities. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. Northern Health confirmed it has the lowest vaccination rates amongst the province’s five regional health authorities. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Vaccination rates in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Fort St James well below provincial average

COVID-19 immunization clinics for youth 12+ coming up in Fort St. James

Northern Health (NH) is B.C.’s regional health authority with the lowest rate of vaccinations against COVID-19.

Coverage rates for the authority that covers an area of nearly 600,000 square kilometers with the population of communities ranging from a few hundred people to more than 80,000 range from 35 to 40 per cent up to as high as 72 per cent.

As of Wednesday, June 9, at least 64 per cent of people in Fort St. James and area aged 12 and older have had one of two doses, with 57 per cent in Fraser Lake.

Half of the population in Vanderhoof has received their first shot, which is slightly higher than the outlying rural area at 47 per cent.

“There could be a number of factors impacting rates, currently; from the largely rural and remote nature of our region to levels of vaccine confidence,” said a NH spokesperson.

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“It is important to take into account, though, that in communities with relatively small populations, even slight changes in the number of people immunized can have a big impact on overall percentages. We look forward to seeing the numbers rise across the region.”

NH said it has been continuously working to increase and improve access to opportunities to be immunized.

Youth immunization clinics will be held in Fort St. James at the Fort St. James Health Centre from Thursday, June 17 to Saturday, June 19. Additional clinics for both first and second doses will be held starting Monday, June 21 at the Fort St. James Community Hall.

Individuals who received AstraZeneca for their first dose will be eligible for AstraZeneca or an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) as their second dose.

“In line with BC’s four-step restart plan, we’re all aiming for having 70% of the population vaccinated with dose one in order to be able to move to Step 3 in July,” the NH spokesperson said.

Nearly 75 per cent of all adults in B.C. and 73 per cent of youth 12 and older have received their first COVID-19 vaccine, the province’s Ministry of Health said in a joint news release June 10 with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

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