Long-time Cassidy resident Jim Williams was among the first to be vaccinated. (Cole Schisler photo)

Long-time Cassidy resident Jim Williams was among the first to be vaccinated. (Cole Schisler photo)

Ladysmith mass vaccination clinic opens amid confusion around operating dates

The clinic opened at 9:30 a.m. on March 17, 2021

Ladysmith’s mass vaccination centre at Aggie Hall opened on the morning of Wednesday, March 17.

The clinic was initially scheduled to open on March 30, but the date was adjusted to March 17. Island Health’s website lists the closing date of the Aggie Hall clinic as Oct. 31; however, their agreement with the Town of Ladysmith states that the clinic will end on September 15.

RELATED: Island Health confirms Aggie Hall vaccination clinic will open March 17

Ladysmith resident Henry Gottardi is 82 and he said that when he called Island Health to book his appointment he was told that there was no availability at Aggie Hall and that he would need to drive to Duncan or Nanaimo instead.

“I was told that Aggie Hall was fully booked. Further in the conversation it came out that Aggie Hall was only open for two days. Then further along it came out that they can only keep it open for the amount of vaccine that they have,” Gottardi said.

Gottardi said he was also told that the Aggie Hall clinic would be open for more dates when there was an appropriate supply of vaccines.

The Chronicle has reached out to Island Health for clarification on how many days per week the Aggie Hall clinic operates and why Ladysmith residents are being asked to commute to neighbouring communities to get vaccinated. The Chronicle has also sought clarity about the closing date of the clinic.

As of publication time, Island Health has not returned the request for comment.

Another Ladysmith resident, C. Smith, accompanied her husband for his vaccine appointment on the opening day of the Aggie Hall clinic. Both of the Smiths are in the appropriate age cohort, but C. Smith was also told that there was no openings in Ladysmith. She chose to commute to the Cowichan Community Gym in Duncan.

“I don’t like it. I’d rather just come here. We’re seniors, we don’t want to have to be driving all the way to Duncan,” Smith said.

Despite her distaste for driving to Duncan, Smith says she’s relieved that vaccines are being distributed in the community.

And she’s not the only one feeling relieved. David Bodrug was among the first vaccine appointments of the day, and summed up his emotions in one word.

“Yahoo,” Bodrug exclaimed. “It’s a relief. Especially with the oncoming variants and unknown stuff.”

Cassidy resident Jim Williams said getting the shot is ‘great’ because he’s been wearing his face mask since last year. Williams has been able to see his two daughters, but outside of them he hasn’t seen many people. Williams has lived in Cassidy since 1941, and said he’s looking forward to life after the pandemic.

RELATED: Aggie Hall site of Ladysmith mass vaccination clinic

“It’s going to be a great pleasure,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to all the parades.”

The Aggie Hall mass vaccination centre operates from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Vaccination appointments must be made through the Island Health call centre at: 1-833-348-4787. Individuals 85 and over can start calling March 15 to make appointments for the week starting March 22. Island Health hopes to have all elderly seniors aged 80-plus immunized by April 12.

Dedicated public parking for the temporary clinic will be available at both the upper and lower Aggie Hall lots, along Symonds Street and on 2nd Avenue above the natural playground.

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