VANCOUVER -- The Southhill Family Health Centre in East Vancouver serves 10,000 patients, and most want to get a flu shot this fall.

“Given the physical distancing requirements for safe care during the pandemic, we are already maxed out upstairs,” said medical director Dr. Rita McCracken.

So, the health centre set up a flu vaccination clinic in the city-owned building’s underground parkade.

“We did not realize we needed to make a specific request for permission from the city to be able to use the parkade, and after our first day of operations, a neighbour had reported the clinic,” said McCracken.

An email from Vancouver city officials soon followed, and she was told she would have to shut the clinic down within 30 days.

But rather than close immediately, McCracken is expediting the vaccinations in the parkade clinic.

“With 30 days, 200 vaccines a day, we’re going to be able to get a lot patients vaccinated,” she said.

The doctor believes it’s good practice for when clinics need to safely administer a COVID-19 vaccine to their patients.

“The first time you do anything you will find out some kinks in the process,” said McCracken. “So, here we are going to be able to smooth things out now, so we are ready to go when the COVID vaccine is available.”

Patient Kate Mancer was surprised to be getting her flu shot in a parkade, but said she likes the idea for quickly adminstering a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I think its very clever and very innovative and (a) very good solution to what is going to be obviously a serious challenge when we get the vaccine, if we ever do,” she said. “This is a good practice run.”

While the parkade clinic’s days are numbered, McCracken hopes the city will reconsider allowing it when there’s a COVID vaccine.

“I am optimistic that the City of Vancouver, our landlord, will be open to having conversations about providing a space where we can do that essential service,” she said.