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B.C. woman upset she couldn't get a booster despite no line at vaccination clinic

Kelowna residents would like to see a stand-by line
The bulk of British Columbians won't be getting their COVID-19 booster shot until January, February and March.

Kathy Martyna just wants to get a COVID-19 booster shot before she visits with her elderly in-laws over the holidays.

Unfortunately, she’s just outside the current eligible age group.

The 61-year-old Kelowna woman decided to see if she could get one anyway, and stopped by the vaccination clinic at Capri Centre Mall.

“So in my particular situation, OK I’m going to go there, if it’s not busy it would just make sense that they would just take me.

"So, I go there and it’s exactly that. There is no lineup. I walk right up the front and I say I’d like to get this appointment and get it done now,” explained Martyna.

She was told no, she needed an invitation from the province to get the booster.

Martyna doesn’t understand why she couldn’t get a shot if they had them in stock, staff were waiting to administer them, and no one was waiting.

“She said, 'Sorry, no, it’s not going to happen until January.' And my point is, in January you’ve just created yourself a huge line of bottlenecks because everyone comes flooding in. If they jab my arm now, I don’t come back in January.”

Martyna suggests there should be a stand-by line, for the times when vaccination clinics are slow or when someone doesn’t show up for their scheduled appointment.

During Tuesday’s COVID-19 update, Dr. Bonnie Henry did announce the province is accelerating its booster rollout, but not until the new year.

Some health authorities are working to set up mass vaccination clinics after the holidays. Other provinces are already giving out boosters in large numbers, including Alberta, which announced anyone 18 and over is now eligible.

Martyna thinks B.C. is falling behind and she also criticizes the system that requires people to wait for an invitation to get a booster.

“Then they’re asking us to try to fit something in around them, when you know, we are better at managing our own lives than government is.”

Martyna is disappointed she couldn’t get her shot and might have to cancel her trip to visit her in-laws.

B.C.’s strategy since the outset of the mass vaccination campaign that got underway almost exactly a year ago has been to focus on specific age groups and higher-risk populations, generally staggering eligibility based on descending age brackets.

Those initial efforts were targeting those ages 70 years and older, Indigenous populations in rural locations, residents in long-term-care and assisted-living, the immunosuppressed and health-care workers who received their initial two doses at a shorter interval than the general population.

Eligibility has since expanded to some younger age brackets and those who received two AstraZeneca plc doses rather than at least one dose of an mRNA product, such as those made by Pfizer Inc. or Moderna Inc.

But booster doses for the bulk of the general population are not expected to be administered until January, February and March.