COVID-19 vaccine offered at Stampede breakfast in northeast Calgary

To help boost the vaccination rate, the Centre for Newcomers hosted a Stampede breakfast at the Northgate Village Shopping Centre this morning and offered Moderna shots at a nearby Alberta Health Services walk-in clinic.

Nathan Bensler, a facilitator with 19 to Zero, was on-site encouraging people to get their vaccine.

“I’ve walked a few people to the clinic,” he said. “Getting a bunch of people their second dose and a few people their first dose is fantastic.”

The unique approach comes after a successful project that included several pop-up vaccination sites in the northeast, including at the Village Square Leisure Centre.

“When we started collaborating with the Calgary Stampede we thought it was a great idea also to bring AHS on-site to bring the vaccine for those who don’t have it yet,” said Charlie Wang vice president client services with the Centre for Newcomers.

Northeast Calgary saw some of the highest COVID-19 rates in the country at one point but had low vaccination rates. AHS data show first dose vaccination rates in the northeast still trails neighbouring communities.

Shabana Shaazad was thrilled to be able to get out of the house and enjoy the Stampede with friends. She says having the option to get a shot at an event people would already be attending is convenient.

“People are hesitant to go and make an appointment,” she said. “This opportunity is great.”

AHS says 73.7 per cent of eligible Albertans have received their first dose. Compared to provinces like B.C., Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec, Alberta is falling behind for first doses.

Recently, Premier Jason Kenney said there might be vaccination sites on the Stampede grounds but in a press conference Friday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro did not say whether that was happening.

However, other efforts have been made to try to reach “herd immunity” in the province. AHS has created pop-up clinics in several rural communities such as Cayley and teams have been working with Hutterite colonies.

“People should get their vaccines,” said Catherine Shun, a registered nurse at the Foothills Medical Centre.

“It really helps lower our cases and it helps protect our family and friends so we can go back to our normal lives.”

The Centre for Newcomers says hundreds of people attended the Stampede breakfast and as many as 100 people were vaccinated.