British Columbia

Vaccine clinic at Surrey Sikh temple successful and should continue, organizer says

Fraser Health is hosting another COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey Friday and the president of the gurdwara says it would be a good idea to host more in places of worship.

Gurdwara president says site represents trust for many in Fraser Health region

Narinder Singh Walia, the president of the Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey, B.C., said places of worship are an effective way to vaccinate people in Fraser Health and he would like to continue hosting them at the gurdwara. (Martin Diotte/CBC news)

Hundreds of people signed up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at a Sikh temple in Surrey Friday and the event organizer says the local health authority would be smart to continue hosting clinics in places of worship.

The gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey, B.C., was the site of a clinic last week where 400 people were given shots and another 400 are booked for Friday. The clinic is by appointment only.

Gurdwara president Gyani Narinder Singh Walia says there are no immediate plans to host another, but that based on the success so far, using places of worship is a wise strategy.

A lot of that, says Walia, has to do with trust.

"People want to come into the worship place to take the vaccination," said Walia. "People believe us."

Speaking on CBC's The Early Edition just hours before the gurdwara opened its doors to Fraser Health, Walia said for some South Asian residents in Surrey, coming to temple for their shot is also simpler.

People who book an appointment by calling the gurdwara don't have to worry about language barriers or long wait times on hold, which Walia said can be challenging.

Walia said the clinic has been so easy for so many, and so efficient at fighting the spread of COVID-19, he has asked Fraser Health to do more. He said he would take care of arranging tents and chairs and will also help get the word out to the community.

According to Walia, the health authority can not confirm in advance if this will be possible as clinics are being set up on a day-by-day basis.

Friday's clinic is by appointment only but it was open to anyone in the region, not solely for community members affiliated with the gurdwara. 

Those attending the clinic Friday are asked to wear a head cover when entering the Sikh place of worship.

Currently, anyone 18 and older in British Columbia can register for vaccination. This can be done online through the "Get Vaccinated" portal, by calling 1-833-838-2323, or in person at any Service B.C. location.

Online services are available in 12 languages and services by phone are available in 140.

With files from The Early Edition