Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison says he is comfortable waiting until April, when he will be eligible to begin vaccination for COVID-19 as per the province’s updated immunization plan.
On Friday, Jan. 22, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provided further details regarding the provinces’ vaccination timeline that is targeted to reach everyone 18 and older by the end of September.
Describing himself as a 61-year-old healthy male, Harrison, according to the immunization plan, is among those to be vaccinated in phase 3 (ages 60 to 79), expected to take place between April and June 2021.
“I am perfectly comfortable with that,” said Harrison. “My feeling is for every person that is vaccinated before I am, that’s a good thing, because it just makes it safer for everyone. And I believe that most people feel the same way.”
Currently, vaccinations are underway in the province, including Salmon Arm, for phase 1 of the immunization plan. It includes high-risk populations including residents, staff and essential visitors to long-term care and assisted living facilities, individuals assessed for and waiting for long-term care, hospital and health-care workers who may provide care for patients with COVID-19 and remote and isolated Indigenous communities.
Harrison said one of the questions he is asked regularly by residents is when it will be their turn for vaccination.
“It has started, and I think this plan today will really help people know where they fit along the spectrum of when it’s their turn,” said Harrison.
Regarding the recent spike of positive COVID-19 tests in Salmon Arm , Harrison said he has seen more people in the community as of late wearing face masks – even on the street, and he doesn’t think the latest case numbers are a result of people not adhering to public health regulations.
“I don’t think it is because people have been any less vigilant,” said Harrison “I think people of Salmon Arm and the Shuswap are continuing to do all the things that they need to do. But this is an airborne virus and I really want to avoid a stigma or a blame to those who are unfortunate enough to test positive because generally, at least in our area, it’s of no fault of their own. They’re trying as hard as you or I and it just happened that they contracted it.”
Harrison said he understands the anxiety and stress people might be feeling, especially as of late. But he reminds residents that with vaccinations underway, there is light at the end of the tunnel – we just need to hang in there.
“These next six weeks, eight weeks are going to continue to be challenging and people are fatigued because we’ve been at this for a year almost. And it’s hard,” said Harrison, who encouraged residents to continue taking care of themselves and each other.
“Try to get outside in physical distance situations everyday, there’s all kinds of opportunity. I guess one blessing that we have is this winter has been so mild and it has allowed us to get out and walk places and I think that’s been helpful.”