Downtown Eastside residents receive five dollars for getting COVID-19 vaccine

Mar 2 2021, 10:34 pm

Some residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who are getting the COVID-19 vaccine will receive five dollars in exchange for doing so.

In a statement, BC’s Ministry of Health told Daily Hive that the practice is a slight change to how vaccine clinics have typically operated in the area.

“Often when Vancouver Coastal holds vaccine clinics in the DTES, for example, flu clinics, coffee and food are offered,” the ministry said, after the practice was first reported by Global News. “That’s not possible right now because we don’t want people gathering around the coffee and snacks.”

Instead, those who receive the vaccine in some cases are being offered “[a] small stipend so people can get coffee afterwards.”

This stipend is “typically five dollars or a gift card for well-known coffee shops in the area,” the ministry said, noting that the practice is the same as for previous other types of vaccine clinics, using the same budget.

Union Gospel Mission’s (UGM) Jeremy Hunka said he has no ethical concerns regarding the incentive.

“The threat of COVID-19 is just so grave and ever-present that we really can be pulling out all the stops to vaccinate those who are more vulnerable to COVID-19,” he told Daily Hive. “Our cherished community members have fewer layers of defence than the average person — lacking basic access to handwashing, safe homes to self-isolate, and the opportunity to socially distance.”

On top of this, he added many in the community “have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.”

He noted that BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has repeatedly said that Downtown Eastside residents “are more likely to be hospitalized because of COVID-19 than the general population.”

At the end of the day, he said, “UGM wants everyone to be protected from COVID-19 – including our community. The more people are vaccinated, the sooner, the better.”

The ministry noted that 5,111 eligible residents and 2,229 eligible staff members were vaccinated in the Downtown Eastside as of this past Sunday.

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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