Furloughed airline employees set to help out at mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics in B.C.

Furloughed B.C. workers from some companies that have been hit hard by COVID-19 will be back on the job in the coming weeks, helping out at vaccination clinics in the Fraser Health region.

On Tuesday, the health authority announced five new mass vaccination clinics at recreation centres and malls in Chilliwack, Cloverdale, South Surrey, Delta North and Coquitlam that are expected to serve thousands of people a day. All of them will be up and running by Monday, and then another four are planned for Langley, Burnaby, New Westminster and Surrey.

The clinics will be operated in partnership with the local municipalities and community groups, as well as airlines that have furloughed many of their employees during the pandemic.

“A significant number [of partners] have come forward to support us both in terms of leadership support, as well as people that may not have had employment in the past several months due to the travel sector being impacted by COVID-19,” Fraser Health’s president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee told CBC.

“There are people that are involved from wayfinding and traffic to parking ambassadors, to assisting people with navigation and paperwork and check-in to ensure that people have a very positive experience as they go through immunizations.”

Air Canada employees will be greeting people at the Coquitlam clinic at the Coquitlam Poirier Forum, while WestJet workers are set to help out at a clinic that is still in the planning stages for Guildford Recreation Centre in Surrey.

“We are thrilled to support B.C.’s vaccination roll-out and help B.C. communities get people vaccinated in our collective efforts to fight COVID-19,” Air Canada spokesperson Angela Mah wrote in an email.

The new clinics are in addition to another 22 already in operation within the Fraser Health region.

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