By Aman Singh

Summer weather is here and once again reminding us what a beautiful province we live in. Normally this time of year would be filled with community festivals, weddings, parties, and plans for holiday travel.

We know this summer is going to be different. I cannot wait until we can get back to normal, but the only way we will be able to put the pandemic behind us is by getting vaccinated. Each person who gets the vaccine is not only protecting themselves, but is also making their friends, family, and community safer.

Our vaccine rollout plan is moving much more quickly than originally expected. We need everyone to get registered so they can receive their invitation to book an appointment as quickly as possible.

If you have already gotten your vaccine or booked your appointment – thank you for doing your part for your community. Now it’s time for the next step: helping your friends and family to get vaccinated.

The first step for everyone is to register. You can register online at gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated, or by phone by calling 1-833-838-2323. When you call, you can press 2 for Punjabi or 3 for Hindi, and you’ll be greeted and can register in your language.

You will be asked to provide your name, date of birth, postal code, personal health number and an email or phone number where they can text or email to book your appointment. Your information will be safe and confidential, and not shared with anyone else.

Everyone 12+ who lives in B.C. can get a vaccine – regardless of your resident status. If you don’t have a personal health number, you can still register over the phone. Just let the call centre team member know. No one will be turned away.

Once you are registered, you’ll receive an email or text letting you know you can book an appointment. Your New Democrat government has passed a law saying that employers must give all workers three hours of paid leave if they need to get vaccinated during working hours.

There are also drop-in clinics and other opportunities to get vaccinated in the community. Fraser Health is offering drop-in clinics at community locations throughout Surrey, including at gurdwaras, so people can get vaccinated at places that are familiar to them.

Right now, we all have to keep following the same public health orders like wearing a mask and physical distancing – even when we’re vaccinated. But that’s not forever, just for now, until we get more people vaccinated. The Provincial Health Officer will let us know when that changes.

That’s why it’s so important to get people registered – getting vaccinated is how we get back to all the gatherings and celebrations we miss. If you’re already registered, call, text, or message your friends, family, neighbours, and coworkers and help them get registered for their vaccine. It’s up to all of us to take care of our community.

Aman Singh is the new Democrat MLA for Richmond Queensborough.