COVID-19 vaccines were available at a site on East Pender in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Feb. 25. (Twitter/Sarahblyth17)

COVID-19 vaccines were available at a site on East Pender in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Feb. 25. (Twitter/Sarahblyth17)

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside residents offered $5 after getting COVID-19 vaccine

It’s an effort to ‘incentivize people to engage,’ says B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has been the site of numerous COVID-19 vaccination clinics where residents are given $5 in exchange for receiving a dose.

In a statement, BC’s Ministry of Health told Black Press Media the stipend is to replace food and coffee that is typically offered by Vancouver Coastal Health following inoculations.

“That’s not possible right now because we don’t want people gathering around the coffee and snacks,” explained the ministry.

“Instead, in some cases, they are offering a small stipend so people can get coffee afterward. This is typically $5 or a gift card for well-known coffee shops in the area.”

Union Gospel Mission (UGM) spokesperson Jeremy Hunka said the organization has no ethical reservations about the post-vaccine offering.

“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 said.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has stated Downtown Eastside residents are more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than the general population.

Health Minister Adrian Dix admitted the initiative is an aim to “try and incentivize people to engage. It’s a challenge.”

As of Sunday, Feb. 28 upwards of 5,111 residents and staff members of the Downtown Eastside have been vaccinated from the respiratory disease.

Vaccination clinic locations have included Carnegie Centre, Pender Community Health Centre, Downtown Community Health Clinic, and UGM.



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

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