A sign at a pop-up vaccine clinic at Newton Athletic Park on Tuesday (April 27) telling people the clinic was already at capacity by noon. Both Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Victoria Lee have apologized for the way the clinics were rolled out in high-transmission neighbourhoods. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

A sign at a pop-up vaccine clinic at Newton Athletic Park on Tuesday (April 27) telling people the clinic was already at capacity by noon. Both Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Victoria Lee have apologized for the way the clinics were rolled out in high-transmission neighbourhoods. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Surrey pop-up vaccine clinic ‘got a life of its own that was not anticipated’: Henry

Fraser Health’s top doctor says Newton clinic wasn’t officially announced because of long lines

Despite a rough roll-out of pop-up and drop-in vaccine clinics in Fraser Health this week, B.C.’s top doctor says she’s not “writing them off.”

On Tuesday, Fraser Health announced three drop-in clinics in the health region, with two in Surrey (Whalley and Cloverdale) and one in Coquitlam. However, a pop-up vaccine clinic at Newton Athletic Park, which was ongoing throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, wasn’t mentioned in Fraser Health’s announcement.

Dr. Victoria Lee, the president and CEO of Fraser Health, said the Newton clinic wasn’t announced because before officials could even notify the public, “we had already quite a large number of people that had lined up, so there was no need for an announcement.”

Lee said she “sincerely apologizes” for the pop-up clinics, which were launched Sunday with little warning. They were targeted at some of the 13 communities identified as “high-risk” by the provincial government.

READ ALSO: Fraser Health apologizes for confusion, says no more COVID vaccine pop-up clinics planned, April 29, 2021

“I’d like to start acknowledging the confusion and frustration that some people have… (the) negative experiences that people have had, and recognize that there could have been improvements made in some of our communication, as well as strategies to manage our minds on the ground,” Lee said.

In her briefing Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she speaks daily with both Lee and Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer.

“I’m not saying we’re writing them off, but we’re out of vaccine at this point in the week.”

Henry said the goal was trying new and innovative ways to get vaccines out, but “we admit there have been challenges with those clinics.”

“The good news is, thousands of people got a vaccine.”

Henry said the clinics were done with the “right intentions,” but “it got a life of its own that was not anticipated.”

At the Newton clinic, people reportedly camped out from the early morning hours on Wednesday in hopes of receiving a vaccine, while on Tuesday, it was already at capacity by noon.

READ ALSO: Hundreds line up for hours outside pop-up vaccine clinics in Surrey, April 28, 2021

On Thursday, social media was buzzing with reports of pop-up clinics running once again at Newton Athletic Park, and an additional one at Bear Creek Park. However, Fraser Health confirmed there wouldn’t be anymore for the time being.

– With files from Katya Slepian

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