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‘Chaos and confusion’: Fraser Health stopping pop up clinic program following days of frustration

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Fraser Health will no longer be holding any pop-up COVID-19 immunization clinics after days of long lines and frustration.

Health authority CEO Dr. Victoria Lee said the clinics were intended to address hot spot areas and Fraser Health should have done a better job at reducing chaos.

Hundreds of people lined up at two Surrey locations on Thursday expecting to have an opportunity to receive a COVID-19 shot but were told the clinics were not running.

Thousands more lined up on Tuesday and Wednesday, with hundreds being turned away because the vaccine ran out.

Click to play video: Confusion and frustration surrounding pop-up clinics for COVID-19 vaccinations

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“We recognize there could have been improved communications and strategies to manage the lines on the ground,” Lee said.

“At this time we do not have any further pop-up clinics planned. We want to ensure that we will continue to encourage people in high transmission neighbourhoods to register and get immunized as quickly as possible.”

The clinics were aimed at vaccinating hot spots. Ten of the 13 highest COVID-19 transmission neighbourhoods in the province are in Fraser Health.

Lee said around 6,000 people were immunized through pop-up clinics over three days. Three per cent of those immunized were under the age of 30, which means they should not have been eligible to receive the vaccine.

Click to play video: B.C. health officials increase eligibility check at pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics

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There was also concern people came to the clinics from outside hot spots and Lee did not provide any details on how often this happened. She did note postal codes were checked at the Newton clinic in Surrey on Wednesday.

BC Liberal leader Shirley Bond said the clinics have caused “chaos and confusion” for Metro Vancouver residents hoping to get the vaccine.

People showed up as early as 4 a.m. on Thursday to get a shot.

“The premier’s pop-up clinics are somewhat out of The Hunger Games,” BC Liberal Health critic Renee Merrifield said in Question period.

“The confusion, anger and the lineups continue today in Surrey. Will the premier stand up and apologize for the chaos that he’s caused communities like Surrey?”

Click to play video: Pop-up vaccination clinics in Fraser Health for those 30+

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The province has acknowledged the communication around the clinics was poor and would work to better inform people in Fraser Health how they could get their shot.

Health Minister Adrian Dix conceded they were not a success.

“Different health authorities have tried different strategies to address the situation. Over the last couple of days in Surrey and in Coquitlam, Fraser Health worked with pop-up clinics,” Dix said.

“Now, they immunized a lot of people in those clinics, but I think it’s fair to say that they were not a success, certainly from communication or a confidence perspective. So Fraser Health is taking the lessons from that. I learned the lessons, and we’ve got to do better, and Fraser Health will do so.”