The Vancouver Giants take on the number 1 team in the league when they play the Kamloops Blazers Friday, March 26, 2021. The public can watch online. (Gary Ahuja/Langley Events Centre)

The Vancouver Giants take on the number 1 team in the league when they play the Kamloops Blazers Friday, March 26, 2021. The public can watch online. (Gary Ahuja/Langley Events Centre)

Langley-based Vancouver Giants have first game Friday in Kamloops hockey bubble

Fraser Health is still deciding how soon it can get a vaccination clinic open in the Langley Events Centre.

Normally at this time of year the Vancouver Giants (2019-20 record: 32-24-4-2) would be using the ice in the arena bowl, but the Langley-based team is taking part in a modified season that sees them live, sleep and play in a bubble in Kamloops along with the Blazers and Prince George Cougars. The Rockets and Victoria Royals are in a bubble in Kelowna.

The Giants played their first games Friday and Sunday.

Vice president Dale Saip said the energy level was high with the players anxious to hit the ice for competition.

With the Giants out of town and other sports teams unable to use the venue, the building will become a clinic.

The Giants and Langley Events Centre became involved through a recent phone call.

“I was approached by a guy I worked for years ago,” Saip said.

He said the organization was happy to team up with Fraser Health to help in any way possible.

“If you’re going to curb these variants, you better get this in people’s arms,” he said. “This is a team effort, and we’re pretty good at team.”

Right now, the vaccination clinic in Langley is an outdoor drive-through set up on the Kwantlen Polytechnic University campus.

“Planning is underway for the immunization clinic at the Langley Events Centre. We do not have an opening date available,” said Dixon Tam, Fraser Health communications.

The health authority, which is responsible for all health care provision within a region stretching from Delta to Boston Bar, announced it is working with various businesses and groups to open up clinics for faster vaccination against COVID-19.

The clinics will make use of hospitality industry staff who have been out of work due to the pandemic, as they assist medical staff.

“Facilitated through Immunize BC, our industry partners are supporting COVID-19 immunization clinics by providing staff to assist in non-clinical roles at some of our sites,” Tam explained. “These staff will assist in roles such as parking ambassadors to assist with traffic control, flow monitors to assist people with navigation, greeters, and check-in staff when people arrive on-site. They will also assist people with walking or filling out paperwork.”

“On average, Fraser Health’s mass immunization clinics require approximately 30 to 40 non-clinical staff members to help with day-to-day operations,” Tam said. “We are grateful for the assistance from our industry partners to help us operate our COVID-19 immunization clinics.”

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Some municipalities are taking part in the vaccination clinics, such as Langley Township which owns the Langley Events Centre. The municipal partners in the clinics are helping with contributions of staff, furniture and supplies.

“There is no financial sponsorship involved as it applies to our industry partners,” Tam said.

Saip said that the partnership allows the health experts to make use of the skills of those accustomed to dealing with large crowds. He looks forward to being able to provide some work for the many staff with the Giants and LEC unable to do their traditional work. He said typically at a Giants game, there would be 50 to 100 people working.

“What a great opportunity for us” to be able to help anyway possible with the greatest public health crisis in modern times, he said.

The clinic will remain open at the LEC through phases 3 and 4 of the vaccination program, the most complex in B.C. history. Under B.C.’s accelerated timeline, everyone in the province who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine will now be able to receive a first dose before July 1.

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