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Surrey mayor Doug McCallum dodges ‘friendly’ immunization challenge

McCallum asserts other public campaigns within city are working
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is the lone mayor not participating in a “friendly challenge to race to community immunity," even though his city has been most affected by COVID-19 infections

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is the only mayor in Fraser Health not participating in a “friendly challenge to race to community immunity.”

Nineteen of 20 mayors, whose municipalities operate inside the COVID-19-plagued health authority, have agreed to see which one can get their residents achieve 70%, 75% and 80% immunization thresholds first, for those age 12 and older.

But McCallum is the lone mayor not participating and his city has been most affected by COVID-19 infections.

When asked why he would not be participating, McCallum provided a statement by email that does not address the question but nevertheless reiterates the need for immunization.

“My focus has been on bringing more vaccination clinics to Surrey, which was accomplished with the Neighbourhood Clinics held last week at Bear Creek Park and the Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex. Our partnership with Fraser Health and the province in the creation of the Neighbourhood Clinics are producing results. 

“There is no question that getting people immunized is the quickest way for all of us to get back to normal. Whether you live in Surrey or not, I strongly encourage everyone to register and get their shot,” stated McCallum.

Surrey announced Thursday Newton Recreation Centre is to hold vaccine clinics Friday, Monday and Tuesday for those who have not made appointments to do so. Clinics will be open from 8:00 am to 6:30 pm or until all vaccines are distributed. Priority is given to Surrey residents receiving their first dose and clinic staff will confirm ID. (click here for full details)

Whalley has the highest daily tested COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 people among health areas at the moment at 28, followed by North Surrey at 27. Newton’s case rate is 21. By comparison, many health areas in Vancouver Coastal Health are in the single digits.

Between May 16 and May 22, Surrey had 721 cases, compared with 49 in Richmond, 182 in Burnaby and 393 in Vancouver. Only Abbotsford fared worse per capita, with 257 cases.

As for one-dose vaccination rates for age 18+, to May 24, Whalley is at 65%, North Surrey is 61%, Newton is 67%. Panorama and Cloverdale are faring better with 73% and 74%, respectively. South Surrey also comes in at 74%.

As of May 25, according to Fraser Health, “greater than 60% of eligible adults over 12 years of age in Fraser Health have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is over one million doses region-wide but there is more work to do. 

“Fraser Health has seen the highest case numbers in our province and it is all hands on deck as we work to provide COVID-19 vaccines to everyone in our region that wants one. As an interconnected region, vaccines are important whether you live in a larger city or a smaller community area,” said Dr. Victoria Lee, president and chief executive officer at Fraser Health, via a news release for the mayors’ challenge.

“I’m grateful for our mayors that have come together for this challenge and for their ongoing support, leadership and contributions throughout this pandemic. As community leaders, they have the unique understanding of their local area needs and will greatly help us extend our reach as far as possible at this critical time,” said Dr. Lee.