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Vulnerable in B.C. and Alberta approached to take COVID-19 vaccines for others


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Homeless and vulnerable people in British Columbia and Alberta have been approached with offers of payment to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by those attempting to fraudulently get a vaccine card.

Vancouver Coastal Health said Thursday those who have been approached have been asked to get vaccinated while falsely using that person’s name and information.

“This behaviour is deplorable and we’re disappointed that anyone would take advantage of vulnerable people in this way in an attempt to circumvent the process for receiving a BC Vaccine Card,” the health authority said in a statement.

“Future instances of fraud may be forwarded to local police authorities for follow up.”

In Alberta, Linda Pires-Relvas, a nurse in an Edmonton community centre, said a client told her in December about being approached by a stranger to take the vaccine.

Pires-Relvas works at Boyle Street Community Services, a charity that works with homeless people in Edmonton.

“The client, herself, shared that someone had approached her to get vaccinated using that person’s health card in exchange for getting paid $100,” she said.

Other friends of hers had also been approached and received multiple doses of the vaccine for different people, Pires-Relvas said.

Pires-Relvas said she worried about possible adverse reactions for these people for taking more than the recommended doses. She said it also speaks to the indifference toward those already struggling in the community.

“They don’t want to get the vaccine for whatever reason … but are not considering the health and potential harm of the vulnerable people,” she said.

The Edmonton Police Service confirmed it is investigating this allegation, which was reported at the start of the year.

Alberta Health Services said in a statement that while serious adverse reactions are rare with COVID-19 vaccines, the risk does increase if doses are given within a short time.

People receiving their vaccines must provide one piece of identification, including an Alberta health care number, driver’s licence, social insurance number, birth certificate or passport.

If someone does not have a piece of government-issued identification, other methods may be used.

In December, B.C. health officials had said COVID-19 immunization records entered into the provincial registry that are suspected to be fraudulent are being reported to police.

The B.C. RCMP said they have no reports of homeless people being approached by strangers and offered cash to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vancouver police say no cases have been reported to the department.

Vancouver Coastal Health said it has “successfully put in measures to thwart” attempts by people to get the vulnerable to take the vaccine for them. It did not elaborate on those measures.

“Fraudulent vaccination records are being removed from the provincial immunization registry and B.C. vaccine cards are being revoked,” it said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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Transportation Safety Board investigating helicopter crash in central Alberta

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CAMROSE, Alta. — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says it is investigating a helicopter crash in central Alberta on the weekend.

The government agency says a Bell 206B helicopter crashed near Camrose on Sunday.

It says a pilot and three passengers were on board. 

RCMP say officers from the Killam-Forestburg detachment, as well as paramedics and firefights, were called to the crash.

Mounties say three of the four people on board were taken by ground ambulance to area hospitals.

A fourth occupant was airlifted to an Edmonton hospital.

Neither the RCMP nor the TSB would describe the severity of the injuries, and did not identify the people who were on the helicopter. 

The Transportation Safety Board says it is gathering information and “assessing this occurrence.”

The Canadian Press

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Running back James Wilder Jr. signs one-year extension with Edmonton Elks

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EDMONTON — The Edmonton Elks signed running back James Wilder Jr. to a one-year contract extension on Monday.

Wilder, who was scheduled to hit the free-agent market next month, racked up 996 total yards and three touchdowns in 2021.

The Florida State product finished third in CFL rushing yards (770) last season and was named the Elks’ most outstanding player.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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