By Steve Hubrecht
[email protected]

Mass community vaccination is coming to the Columbia Valley, following a local COVID-19 outbreak that saw case numbers jump rapidly here in the last week of March and first week of April.

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok told the Pioneer on Friday, April 16 that community mass vaccinations for all Columbia Valley residents older than age 18 will begin on April 19 and will run until May 12, vaccinating roughly 500 people a day.

“That will be for people from Canal Flats to Spillimacheen,” said Clovechok.

Valley residents can register online, by following the prompts in this link:

Those who have already registered online do not need to re-register.

The vaccinations will occur in what Interior Health terms “community clinics” at the Invermere Catholic Church and will run Monday through Friday for three and a half weeks.

Clovechok has been advocating for mass vaccination in the Columbia Valley since the local outbreak began here a few weeks ago and the number of cases climbed dramatically (the highest number cited was a figure of 46, in a community update written by Invermere hospital chief of staff Dr. Gareth Mannheimer on Saturday, April 15). Clovechok had spoken with B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry multiple times, pressing the case.

“The advocacy has paid off,” Clovechok told the Pioneer. “But we’re not out of the woods by any stretch yet. Even once vaccinated, we still have to follow protocols.”

He outlined to the Pioneer that as he understands it, although vaccination helps reduce severe sickness, mortality and hospitalization, there is no clear evidence yet that vaccinated people cannot still carry the virus and pass it on to others. “We cannot let our guard down,” he emphasized.

Clovechok added that the most recent update he had from Interior Health was that the number of active COVID-19 cases in the Columbia Valley is now down to 15.

“So we are heading in the right direction, but we need to remain vigilant,” he said. “It’s a happy day that we have the community mass vaccination, but it’s really unfortunate that we have to have mass vaccination in the first place.”