A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio

No long lineups at walk-in vaccination site in Red Deer

A steady stream of people walked into Westerner Park on Wednesday to get vaccinated or tested.

There was no sign of the kinds of long lineups Calgarians faced on Tuesday at a walk-in clinic set up at the Telus Convention Centre.

Those interviewed leaving Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall were pleased with how smoothly the process went, from online booking to getting a needle in the arm.

Susanne Pohl, 53, went online to book an appointment at 8 a.m. on Tuesday and was connected to the system within two minutes. It said there were 10,000 in the cue ahead of her but it took only around 20 minutes to get her appointment booked.

Her appointment time was 10:20 a.m. and she was done by 10:40 a.m., Pohl said.

“It was really well organized.”

Walking out with her first shot of AstraZeneca was welcomed, she said.

“I feel great that I get to be vaccinated. I’m glad they finally lowered the age limit.”

Alberta lowered the eligibility age for the AstraZeneca vaccine to 40 from 55 on Tuesday.

Pohl said reports of extremely rare serious side effects, such as blood clots, did not worry her at all. She would rather face the remote chance of side effects from the vaccine than the possible health problems being infected with COVID could bring.

Getting the vaccine was more about optimism than a sense of relief.

“It’s one step down the road to freedom. I think it’s more about that.”

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AHS said there were 652 immunization appointments for AstraZeneca booked at the Westerner site on Wednesday, and 333 for the other vaccines. As of 3 p.m., there were 82 walk-in clients immunized.

There were 884 COVID-19 swabbing appointments scheduled for Wednesday. Red Deer swabbing appointments are currently available within 48 hours.

Another woman who came to Westerner Park welcomed getting vaccinated because other health issues might mean she is vulnerable.

“That’s what I worry about because my lungs aren’t greatest,” said the 60-year-old from Penhold, who did not want her name used. “If I got COVID I would be one of the ones in the hospital.”

Getting vaccinated was just like getting any other immunization, she said, adding she gets a flu shot every year.

Gerry Nye was at Westerner Park to get a COVID test.

“I had another health issue and I phoned about seeing a doctor,” said Nye, 76. “They said it would be wise to get tested first.”

Nye said getting tested did not take long.

“There was only one couple in front of me,” he said, adding a health worker told him that there had been a steady flow of people coming through.

“I was quite impressed with how efficient everything was,” said Nye, who has had his first shot and is scheduled to get his second next week.



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