Toronto hosted one of the largest vaccine clinics on record in North America this weekend, when it converted the Scotiabank Arena into a vaccination site. More than 26,000 doses were administered on Sunday, on the same floor where the Toronto Raptors play basketball and the Maple Leafs play hockey. Fittingly, the pop-up was dubbed “The Winning Shot” clinic.
Early in the day, Toronto City councillor Joe Cressy tweeted that North America’s single-dose clinic record took place at the Texas Motor Speedway, where 17,003 doses were administered. The Toronto clinic, meanwhile, had reached 20,000 doses by 6 p.m.
The clinic was a partnership between the City of Toronto, Public Health, a number of different hospitals, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and many volunteers. It was open for those looking to get a first or second show, regardless of what type the first dose might have been. Moderna was offered to those 18 and older, while a limited supply of Pfizer was offered to youth ages 12 to 17. People who received AstraZeneca as a first dose were welcomed to get their second dose of one of the other mRNA vaccines at the clinic. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has publicly advertised adults who received their AstraZeneca first dose to get an mRNA dose as their second vaccine, though Health Canada has yet to make such a recommendation.
Toronto epidemiologist Isaac Bogoch, who attended the clinic to observe, described it as having a “carnival-like” atmosphere with DJs both inside and outside the stadium, but was quick to note that the mega-clinic was impressively “streamlined” because the process was so efficient.
However, the record-breaking numbers don’t mean that the site will be used as a scientific experiment to survey the efficiency of mixing vaccines. The data will be collected to be entered into a single system known as the The COVaxON system, which is the standardized database that collects information such as the percentage of people who’ve had their first dose and what dose was administered.
“This clinic was not an experimentation,” he says. “We’ve been mixing and matching doses for a while, as have other countries...it’s not new. We do it with other vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines.”
Toronto is currently ahead of the province's vaccination schedule targets, with 3.3 million vaccine doses administered. The city announced on Monday that it is opening up 375,000 additional vaccine appointments over the next three weeks.