On Tuesday Aug. 24, a vaccination bus will be in the Alberta Ave area to administer first and second doses of Pfizer and Moderna to the community.
The event will take place in the parking lot of St. Faith’s Anglican Church (11725 93 St.) from 1 to 5 p.m., and will also include a barbecue, Indigenous singing and dancing, and Elders, nurses, and community leaders available to answer questions.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) and a coalition of businesses run the bus to vaccinate people primarily in rural and marginalized areas.
Anum Gaya, the vaccine support coordinator for the Edmonton COVID-19 Rapid Response Cooperative (ECRRC), says, “The bus itself is really inclusive.” Vaccines can be administered to those who do not have identification or an Alberta Health Card, and everyone is welcome to stop by.
This will be the first time the vaccine bus stops in Alberta Ave, but Gaya says another event is in the works for September. That way, individuals who receive their first dose of the vaccine during the event on Tuesday will be able to get their second shot in September.
ECRRC was created in March 2021 “in order to support the community of Edmonton and the community of people who have been affected, directly and indirectly, by COVID-19,” explains Gaya. The organization provides food, financial, and mental health supports. Vaccination campaigning recently became another goal of theirs, especially with the rapid spread of the Delta variant and fluctuating restrictions by the provincial government.
Organizers chose Alberta Ave as the location for a vaccine pop-up because “there are a lot of marginalized and homeless folks in the area,” says Gaya, “so we wanted to cater to them specifically in terms of being barrier free and accessible.”
Our neighbourhoods, characterized as Eastwood on a map provided by the provincial government, shows lower vaccination rates compared to other Edmonton neighbourhoods, including Mill Woods South & East, Bonnie Doon, Twin Brooks, and West Jasper Place. For example, 73.7 per cent of individuals in the 12-19 age group are fully vaccinated in West Jasper Place while only 46.7 per cent of that age group is fully vaccinated in the district, as of August 20.
“There’s [also] a lot of Indigenous community that resides [in Alberta Ave], and a lot of them have not gotten their first or second doses of the shot, so that was the particular reason why we decided to [stop in the Alberta Ave area],” says Gaya.
Over 150 people are expected at the event and Gaya says, “we’re hoping that we can get at least 50 shots administered.”
Vaccine hesitancy is a major barrier to vaccination. “A big [reason for vaccine hesitancy], specifically with the population we’re targeting, is misinformation,” explains Gaya. “We are there with nurses and with… leaders… to really combat [these fears] and answer questions… and help people get vaccinated.”
The most important thing to know, says Gaya, is that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe. “There are supports for [your] questions.” She explains that people and professionals will be present who can answer questions in several different languages.
“At this point,” Gaya says, “all immunizations, all numbers are great. Every immunization counts.” She states that it’s important to encourage people to get vaccinated so people can “protect themselves against these variants that are coming up.”