VANCOUVER -- A targeted COVID-19 vaccine program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is such a success that health officials say the neighbourhood is approaching herd immunity.

The neighbourhood has been a COVID-19 hotspot since last summer, with residents four times more likely to be hospitalized if they contract the virus.

“This is a community that is vulnerable in lots of ways, and marginalized and … have experienced COVID in an exacerbated way,” said Elizabeth Holliday of Vancouver Coastal Health.

More than nine-thousand Downtown Eastside residents have been vaccinated for the virus since February of this year, and weekly COVID-19 cases have dropped from about 60 to fewer than 10.

Roxanne, a resident who has survived COVID-19, said she was glad to be vaccinated.

“I took it serious, and it was very important for me to get it done,” she said.

Residents of the neighbourhood are likely to start being offered their second dose of the vaccine by the second week of May, according to health officials.