Nechako Lakes BC Liberal MLA John Rustad is waiting for someone to explain to him why younger people are being vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Fort St. James area while older people are not.
The issue arose last week when intended vaccinations for some people older than 80 in Fort St. James were cancelled but that younger people in the nearby indigenous community of Nak’azdli Whut’en continued to be vaccinated.
“It’s incumbent upon the province to explain this to me,” said Rustad who said he has been fielding calls from doctors, nurses and other constituents.
“If there’s a good medical reason for doing this, I need to know,” he added.
Rustad said he supported the rationale for the original vaccination program in which specific indigenous communities and others, based mainly on their ages, were placed on the high priority list.
“There were good medical reasons for this and that is something I could defend,” he said.
That support included having the Northern Health Authority shift some of its supply to bolster that which was provided to the First Nations Health Authority.
But when the expected amount of vaccine didn’t materialize a further shift in supply occurred and that’s when Rustad began to question why the decision was made to cancel planned vaccinations in Fort St. James while other programs continued elsewhere.
“I get that there’s been a reduction in the amount of vaccine, I just want someone to explain what’s going on to me,” he said.
The MLA noted that Fort St. James had a large number of COVID cases late last year, resulting in the elderly self-isolating and taking other protective measures and the province sending in additional paramedics.
“I get that in Vanderhoof, the prevalence of COVID isn’t that high and the vaccinations there are in health care, for long term care workers,” Rustad said. “But in Fort St. James there were a lot of cases of COVID. And we know that the vast majority of fatalities occur from COVID for people over the age of 80,” he said.
The MLA said he’s posed his questions to Northern Health and is waiting for a response.
Black Press has reached out to Northern Health for a comment.