The COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

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Two weeks ago, the province announced it would establish the first community vaccination clinic for elderly people (80 years old and older) who don’t live in nursing homes.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang made clear that this first clinic was a prototype — it would operate at the IWK for just four days starting Monday, Feb. 22, and would be limited to a few hundred people, by invite only.

“It’s important to note that those receiving an invitation to book an appointment are being selected randomly by their postal code,” said Strang Tuesday. “And these are the postal codes, which are within an hour distance of the clinic site… There’s been a lot of interest, so much so that the first two days are almost fully booked already. So if you have received a letter to participate in this clinic and are able to attend, I’d like to remind you that the invitation is only intended for the person who received the letter. It cannot be transferred or extended to another individual.

The purpose of the prototype clinic, Strang made clear, was to develop a process and to work out any administrative kinks before establishing multiple community clinics for widespread distribution of the vaccine in coming months.

Well, a kink has presented itself.

A “bit of a flurry” arose on the private Crichton Park neighbourhood Facebook page yesterday, a reader tells the Examiner. “Someone googling ‘NS vaccine’ info found the registration portal for the over-80 invitation-only vaccination clinic at the IWK. He signed up his elders, posted the link on facebook and others followed suit, no surprise.”

“I looked, and indeed, the registration portal did not reference the invitation-only aspect and was open to anyone to use,” the reader explained.

We asked the Department of Health if uninvited people had registered for the clinic, and got this response from Department of Health spokesperson Marla MacInnis via email:

Nova Scotians invited to take part in the first vaccine prototype clinic were selected at random based on being 80+, having a valid Nova Scotia health card, and living within an hour of the clinic site. The letter clearly stated that the invitation was not to be transferred or extended to anyone else. We can’t confirm if or how the link was shared on social media. If that is the case, it is unfortunate as we have been asking Nova Scotians for their patience as we rollout the vaccine.

Anyone who did not receive a letter and tried to book online would only receive an appointment if they are 80+ and have a valid Nova Scotia health card.

We’d like to remind Nova Scotians, this is only a prototype clinic designed to test the administration of COVID-19 vaccine through a mass immunization clinic. There will be more opportunities for Nova Scotians, including those that received the letter and were unable to get an appointment, to receive the vaccine in March.

It’s unclear from that response if the uninvited registrants will be allowed into the vaccination clinic or not.

“Maybe the honour system is not going to work any better here than it has in other places,” the reader comments.


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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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