Some teachers racing around Lower Mainland in hopes of getting leftover shots

As B.C.'s COVID-19 case numbers remain alarmingly high, some anxious teachers are resorting to driving around the Lower Mainland in the hopes of getting a jab.

Sheelagh Brothers tweeted a photo Tuesday night of what she described as teachers lined up in Surrey hoping to get one of the vaccine doses left over at the end of the day. Vaccine must be used within hours of being diluted, and while health authorities have protocols in place to prevent waste, in some instances they are being offered to the public.

Brothers said teachers have been hearing about these instances through an informal communication system, usually another teacher who will spread the word about a clinic that provided leftover vaccine late at night. She said that's what happened on Tuesday.

"We all dropped everything and jumped in our cars with our proof of 'I work for a school district' and drove there in the hope that we might get a shot," she said.

Although Brothers said she knows some teachers who have managed to receive a shot, she's now been turned away twice. Once, she was told that the rule at a Surrey clinic had been changed just 10 minutes prior

"It was like ooh, I was so close," she told CTV News.

Other teachers were supposed to get their shots as part of B.C.'s frontline worker track. That's on pause because the AstraZeneca doses are currently only being used in those 55-plus due to a change in national recommendations.

Asked about what she thought of teachers desperate to get a shot, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said she hadn't heard of the situation described, but would look into it.

"I can appreciate the anxiety," Whiteside added.

The minister insisted schools are safe. She pointed to B.C.'s newly expanded rules for mandatory masks in schools, and added that 9,000 educational staff in Surrey – including teachers, custodians and teaching assistants – had already been vaccinated. That city has been a consistent hotspot for COVID-19 cases.

"That's an example of the response we are making on the ground," Whiteside said.

For Brothers, the mask mandate is helping but she said the concern is still there.

"We're so tired of worrying everytime someone coughs or sneezes or their masks fall below their nose. It's like, is that going to be the time?"

These are all teachers standing in line at a clinic in Surrey, hoping to get a #Covidvaccine. The catch: we don't teach in Surrey. There are no clinics set up yet in New West, Langley, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Vancouver. They have vaccines here. We'd like some protection please. #bced pic.twitter.com/vFc22niYzp

— Sheelagh Brothers (@SheeBrothers) April 7, 2021