River Rock Casino has been closed since last March because of the pandemic, but it will become a flurry of activity starting next week as one of three COVID-19 vaccination clinic sites in Richmond.
In addition to River Rock, clinics will be held at East Richmond Community Hall (just west of Cambie secondary) and at the Jackson Lam Adult Day Care Centre (Austin Harris) in Steveston where those aged 90 years and older will start getting their shots next week.
Appointment booking started this morning – with the first vaccine appointments starting March 15 - and call centres were quickly overwhelmed.
By 10 a.m. Monday, there had been more than a million calls although there are only about 54,000 people who are eligible and still unvaccinated (about 26,000 people aged 90 and older and eligible Indigenous people have already been vaccinated).
About 10,000 appointments had been booked by Monday afternoon, Health Minister Adrian Dix explained, but many of those were booked through Fraser Health’s online booking system.
Dix said they’re hoping to have an online booking system for the whole province when Phase 3 starts on April 12.
Anyone born in the year 1931 or earlier as well as Indigenous people aged 65 and older can call 1-877-587-5767 starting today (March 8).
When calling, seniors will need to give their first and last name, personal health number, date of birth, postal code and phone number.
Penny Ballem, the lead of the vaccine rollout in the province, warned B.C. residents last week that there have been COVID-19 scams, pointing out health authorities will not ask for social insurance numbers nor credit card or banking information.
The clinics are open to eligible seniors and Indigenous peoples as follows:
- Seniors born in 1931 or earlier (90 years of age and older) who live in Richmond, Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver.
- Seniors born in 1941 or earlier (80 years of age and older) who live on the Sunshine Coast, or in Powell River, Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton.
- Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) born in 1956 or earlier (65 years of age and older) and Elders.
Last week, vaccinations were given to seniors in independent living facilities.
In her COVID-19 update Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry said there has been one long-term care facility outbreak in B.C. although the residents and staff had been largely vaccinated.
So far, more than 333,000 vaccination doses have been administered in the province.
- with files from Valerie Leung