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Desperate teachers lining up for leftover vaccine at Surrey clinics — only to be turned away

The scramble for vaccines comes as the province has yet to announce how and when it will provide vaccines for priority frontline workers; however older teachers are being encouraged to get AstraZeneca vaccines at their local pharmacies
Teachers Line up for Shots Twitter
In this photo from Twitter, teachers line up in the hopes of getting left over COVID-19 shots in Surrey clinics. Teachers say they were turned-away.

With schools back in session and COVID-19 numbers climbing, some Metro Vancouver teachers are seeking out ways to get vaccinated to protect themselves during the pandemic.

Rather than waiting weeks for a shot in the age-based campaign or the renewal of a paused campaign to vaccinate priority frontline workers, some teachers are lining up in the hopes of receiving leftover doses at Surrey clinics.

In a Tweet Tuesday, a New Westminster teacher posted a photo of teachers, including Coquitlam district educators, lining up at a Surrey clinic in the hopes of getting a leftover shot. 

“They have vaccines here. We’d like some protection please,” Sheelagh Brothers wrote in her Twitter post.

It’s not known how many Coquitlam district teachers have received shots this way, if any, but Surrey teachers where COVID-19 cases are high are being vaccinated to tamp down the virus.

In a follow-up Tweet, Brothers said teachers other than those from Surrey were turned away and told to go to their own districts.

A Maple Ridge teacher said they, too, were turned away after lining up for leftover vaccines. The teacher said via Twitter that he was turned away over concerns about supply.

The strategy of seeking out leftover doses in other cities isn’t one supported by Coquitlam Teachers Association president Ken Christensen, however, he understands the desperation of teachers worried about getting sick with COVID-19.

He said he heard some out of district teachers tried to get shots in Surrey but noted “I don’t think it’s happening anymore.”

“My number one job right now is to push 'April shot one' vaccination for all my teachers,” Christensen said.

Earlier the province announced plans to inoculate teachers along with other priority frontline workers with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

But the campaign was put on hold over concerns of blood clots in younger people; the AstraZeneca vaccine is now only being administered to British Columbians between 55- and 65-years-old.

Christensen said he’s urging older teachers in the 55 to 65 age group to get AstraZeneca shots at local pharmacies “as there is supply and they are going through waitlists.”

The scramble for vaccines comes as the province has yet to announce how and when it will provide vaccines for priority frontline workers.

Meanwhile, health officials confirmed 1,068 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, which is the second-highest number of infections detected in a day since the pandemic began. A record 1,072 people were found to be carrying the virus on April 3.

In the Tri-Cities, COVID-19 cases continue to climb. However, there are currently no school exposure cases on the Fraser Health website as students only returned to school yesterday after a two-week spring break. But that could change quickly.

On Tuesday, Henry warned the more children stay home from school the more likely they are to spread the virus. That's because they often have "other unstructured time," she said.

Tri-City students were told to bring extra masks to school because they will now be wearing them all day, even while at their desks, while Kindergarten to Grade 3 students are encouraged to wear masks indoors.

Meanwhile, British Columbians are encouraged to book a vaccine if they are 70-years-old or older, are Indigenous over age 18 or are have a letter confirming they qualify as "clinically most vulnerable."