Vaccine hopefuls lured by rumours turned away as Fraser Health ends pop-ups

Rumours that Guildford Recreation Centre had available vaccines in a pop-up clinic had hopefuls rushing to get their dose, but Fraser Health says they are only vaccinating people who are eligible and booked in advance.

The confusion comes in the wake of a series of short-term vaccination clinics in COVID-19 hotspots that were cancelled after just three days in the wake of a public backlash. Word of the pop-up clinics spread almost exclusively through text messages and hundreds of people spent hours in line only to be sent home unvaccinated when supplies ran out.

While the pop-ups have ended, the rumours continue and dozens have been attending the site looking for a shot.

"Fraser Health does not have any further pop-up or drop-in COVID-19 immunization clinics planned in our region at this time," wrote a spokesperson on Friday. "The Guildford Recreation Centre is an existing COVID-19 immunization site for eligible people with booked appointments. It is not providing immunizations to people who do not have booked appointments."

However, staff at the site are registering people and notifying them of any availability later in the day or at a later time via text message.

"If there is no capacity available, staff will assist people in booking an appointment for them at a neighbouring immunization clinic that has appointments available," wrote the spokesperson. "Those who live in high-transmission neighbourhoods, and other eligible people, are encouraged to register for immunization right away on the Get Vaccinated website so they can book their appointments and to get immunized."

The age-based rollout has expanded to those in their 50s, who are now eligible for the Pfizer vaccine and are encouraged to register on the provincial website to more easily make an appointment. The health minister says those in their 40s should be eligible next week.