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Creative Fort St. John nurses get school immunizations done


Six nurses and a mascot pose, wearing masks and giving thumbs up signs, outside the Fort St. John Health Unit.
The health care team at the Fort St. John Health Unit poses with Frozen John, the mascot of Fort St. John. They’re all smiles under their masks.

Faced with the challenge of rebooking scheduled immunizations for 500 grade-six students, as well as some grade-nine students, the primary health care teams in Fort St. John found a way to make it happen with some creativity and hard work.

When COVID-19 hit, school immunization clinics were cancelled, and the primary care nurses were left trying to figure out what to do. The nurses delayed clinics, waiting to see if schools would reopen, but by April, it was clear that an alternative plan was needed.

The nurses initiated the process by sending letters to students’ parents, asking them to call and book an immunization appointment at the health unit. The nurses quickly realized that wasn’t successful, so they tried a different approach.

Each morning, a nurse was tasked to pick a school and call the parents to book their kids into same-day, afternoon appointments or into a Tuesday clinic in June. The phone calls gave nurses an opportunity to address parents’ concerns and reassure them about COVID-19 safety precautions.

To ensure that physical distancing requirements were met, the team adapted the health unit’s large multi-purpose room, turning it into a waiting room. Following the 15-minute post-vaccine waiting period, clients were directed to leave the building using an external door in the same room to minimize traffic at the health unit’s main entrance.

Some benefits of this process were that the students were to able to see their classmates from a distance while in the waiting room and the nurses were able to offer any missed immunizations, something they’re not able to do at school clinics. 

“We want to really recognize our nurses,” says Sharlene, one of the team leads in Fort St. John. “They work hard, have great ideas, they’re innovative, and they’re the ones that make this all work.”