STU student frustrated by cancelled vaccine appointments

    A nursing student from the University of New Brunswick administers a vaccine in this archive photograph from October 2020. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    A St. Thomas University student is voicing his frustration at the Government of New Brunswick for repeatedly cancelling his COVID-19 vaccine booster appointments.

    Pablo Costa, a third-year student, took to social media on Jan. 27 to express his disappointment after public health cancelled his booster appointment for the second time.

    Costa said he wanted to get his booster because of his history of severe pneumonia. After receiving his second dose in July 2021, he said it was time for his third dose.

    “It didn’t feel as pressing as when I had no vaccine or one vaccine,” said Costa. “But, since I saw a lot of my friends [getting] it, I said, ‘well, maybe it’s time for me to do [it] as well.'”

    Costa booked an appointment in late January at a clinic offered by the Horizon Health Network at Fredericton High School. He booked his appointment through the regional health authority since he received his first two doses through the same clinics.

    This location was convenient since he doesn’t drive and he would be able to walk there.

    Two days before his appointment, Costa received a call saying the clinic was cancelled. Public health offered him a spot at the Brookside Mall clinic, but he said it was too far. So, they scheduled him for the next clinic at FHS at 10 a.m. on Jan. 30.

    But three days before Jan. 30, Costa received an email cancelling the appointment. This time, he didn’t receive a call to reschedule, nor was he given a reason for the cancellation.

    “Then I just said, ‘well, I’ll get it when I feel like it’s convenient for me to do so,'” he said.

    Costa assumed the cancellation was connected to possible supply chain issues for COVID-19 vaccines in New Brunswick. Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, told reporters at a media briefing on Feb. 9 supply shortages were resolved.

    Bruce MacFarlane, communications director for New Brunswick’s department of health, wrote in an email to The Aquinian that the Jan. 30 vaccine clinic at FHS was originally open to all eligible New Brunswickers. He wrote it was delayed until that afternoon due to inclement weather.

    “Individuals scheduled in the morning were contacted in advance to reschedule their appointments,” wrote MacFarlane. “This is standard operating procedures for unforeseeable events and clinic cancellations.”

    Since Costa said he never received a follow-up from public health to reschedule, getting his booster has become a lower priority for now. He still feels protected with his two vaccine doses, but with a busy school and work schedule, he doesn’t have the time to get his third dose.

    Still, Costa said he would get his booster dose eventually. He said he trusts science, but it will have to wait until he can find the time.

    Costa said he would like to see the province host vaccination clinics in more locations, similar to the first vaccination campaign last summer, where public health offered transportation to clinics. He even remembers a clinic during the LGBTQ+ pride celebrations in downtown Fredericton in August 2021.

    “I think we should mimic what we did in the earlier days of the vaccination campaign because I feel like it proved very successful,” said Costa.