Lawrence Barber, 83, received his Moderna vaccination on Monday, administered by Interior Health nurse Barb Wadlegger, at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital. (Stephanie Hagenaars photo)

Lawrence Barber, 83, received his Moderna vaccination on Monday, administered by Interior Health nurse Barb Wadlegger, at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital. (Stephanie Hagenaars photo)

Moderna vaccine arrives in Clearwater

The Interior Health vaccine clinic will run two days a week

The first doses of the COVID-19 Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine have been officially administered in Clearwater at the Interior Health clinic.

Those aged 80 and older, including their spouses if they are 70 and older, and Indigenous peoples 65 and over, started to receive their vaccinations on March 22, the first day of the clinic, at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital. The clinic will be operating two days per week.

Lawrence Barber, 83, was one of the 102 residents who booked in to receive their shots on Monday (March 22), and he said getting the vaccine gave him a feeling of relief.

“It’s a good point just because we’ve had so many dismal failures,” he said. “It’s a welcomed thing.”

He added he’s excited to soon be able to see his children and grandchildren again. Barber also will need to return in four months time to receive his second dose.

Many Clearwater and area residents could be feeling very similar soon as Mayor Merlin Blackwell made an announcement on Facebook that general public vaccinations could be coming to the area as soon as mid-April. Though good news for the community, details could change at any moment.

Those who would like to keep apprised of vaccination information can visit news.interiorhealth.ca.

“Please remember that this means that we need to keep our guard up and finish strong,” Blackwell wrote. “COVID will not end for us with vaccination, but the risk and damage will subside considerably. You will also need to be vigilant until your body builds immunity after you get your dose.”

By the end of the week, almost 181,000 people will have been eligible for their vaccination dose.

Cases of COVID-19 have been relatively low in the North Thompson Local Health Area, sitting at a total of nine after two cases were identified last week (March 7 to 13), and though numbers in Interior Health are lower than what they were just a couple months ago, a recent increase in B.C.’s infection rate was noted by health officials on Monday.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 631 new cases on Monday, March 22, and 15 deaths over the weekend. The rate of infection is considered a high risk for community infection. She and Health Minister Adrian Dix warned against relaxing restrictions while the province rolls out its vaccination program to younger age groups and front-line workers in grocery stores, schools and large workplaces and camps.

The Government of B.C. stresses even those who have received the vaccine must follow provincial health orders including washing hands regularly, wearing a mask in public indoor spaces, keeping a safe distance from others and staying home when sick and getting tested.

— With files from Black Press

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