VICTORIA -- Island Health will soon begin offering COVID-19 vaccines to all adults of more than a dozen remote communities this week.

The health authority's "whole community" vaccine approach is intended to protect residents of remote communities who may have difficulty accessing larger immunization clinics.

Some of the criteria used to define a remote community include requiring a ferry or plane to travel to the closest immunization clinic, or if it takes more than three hours by car to drive there, according to Island Health.

At eligible communities, Island Health will be offering COVID-19 vaccine doses to anyone over the age of 18 for a small window of time over the next several weeks. The vaccine clinics will be open for either a single day or several consecutive days.

The first whole community vaccine clinics will open on Tuesday, March 23.

The 13 Island Health communities that are participating in the "whole community" strategy, and the dates that they are open, are:

  • Sayward, 23 March
  • Port Renfrew, 24 & 25 March
  • Zeballos, 24 March
  • Cortes Island, 25, 26 & 27 March
  • Lasqueti Island, 29 March & 1, 8, 9, 12 April
  • Tahsis, 29 & 30 March
  • Read Island, 31 March
  • Gold River, 6,7 & 8 April
  • Bamfield, 7 & 8 April
  • Kyuquot, 23 March
  • Woss, Date TBD
  • Protection Island, Date TBD
  • Piers Island, Date TBD

Some residents can call a local call centre to book their vaccine appointments.

Residents of Sayward, Port Renfrew, Zeballos, Cortes Island, Lasqueti Island, Tahsis, Gold River and Bamfield should call 877-795-0755 to book their COVID-19 immunization.

The phone line is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. If you are not a resident of one of these remote communities, you are asked to call the general Island Health vaccine call centre at 1-833-348-4787.

If you live in a remote community or small island close to where a whole community clinic is opening, you may also book an appointment on one of these dates. Island Health notes that you must contact a cell centre to confirm if you qualify for a vaccine at one of these communities.

Anyone who lives in a remote community who can not attend their scheduled vaccine dates must wait for their age cohort to open up at larger immunization clinics in the future.