Northeast Calgary hockey arena transformed into mass vaccination clinic this weekend

A northeast Calgary leisure centre is being transformed into a mass vaccination clinic as the push continues to get more Albertans vaccinated against COVID-19.

Village Square Leisure Centre at 2623 56 St. N.E. will open its doors to anyone who needs their first jab on Saturday and Sunday with no appointments needed.

It’s part of a wider effort to get more people in the northeast vaccinated and make it much easier to access.

The quadrant has consistently seen the highest number of cases in the city but the lowest uptake when it comes to vaccines. As of Tuesday, for example, “Calgary – Upper Northeast,” which is one of Alberta Health’s 132 local geographic areas, had the highest number of cases in the city, at 395, and the LGA of “Calgary – Lower Northeast” had the second highest, at 228. The Calgary zone overall reported 2,583 cases on Wednesday.

Organizations that work in the northeast say that’s because of barriers to accessibility rather than vaccine hesitancy. 

Many people work multiple jobs and are too busy to get to an appointment, while many also face language barriers, digital literacy challenges and transportation issues.

“It’s been an incredible team effort,” said Jake Jennings, director of the Calgary and Area Primary Care Networks, one of a long list of partners involved in making the clinic happen.

“It’s occurring in a hockey rink in Canada and it’s kind of poetic,” he said. “It’s perfect.”

The clinic runs from 8 a.m. till 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

“When you walk into the large rink, you’ll see 10 rows with 10 chairs each and you’ll come in, do the paperwork and they’ll sit you in a chair.

“A physician will come with their cart and they’ll just walk down the line. The you’ll sit in a waiting area for 15 minutes and then you’re free to go.”

Jennings says the clinic will be able to administer 240 shots per hour. He hopes they can jab 5,000 residents over the two days.

“The word is getting out and we’re planning for it to be really busy. We want to get shots in those people’s arms,” said Jennings.

The clinic is a partnership between the Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services, Calgary East Newcomers Collaborative, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, several family physicians, the Calgary Primary Care Network, the Mosaic Primary care Network, the University of Calgary and the City of Calgary.

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