Long pop-up clinic lines 'not the best' but getting the job done, says Toronto's mayor

·3 min read
People living in neighbourhoods deemed to be at a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission line up in the rain outside Downsview Arena, in Toronto’s northwest, on Apr. 29, 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
People living in neighbourhoods deemed to be at a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission line up in the rain outside Downsview Arena, in Toronto’s northwest, on Apr. 29, 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Mayor John Tory concedes residents in hot spot neighbourhoods needing to line up for hours — sometimes overnight — at pop-up clinics with no guarantee they'll get vaccinated is "not the best" situation.

But Toronto is making progress, the mayor told Metro Morning's Jason D'Souza on Friday.

The city is on track to hit the milestone of 40 per cent of adults having received their first dose, said Tory. And in hot spot neighbourhoods, vaccination rates have increased from the single digits to more than 30 per cent in one month.

"I'm not going to sit here and argue that it's perfect, but we are getting the job done," Tory said.

Ash Hussein and Jamal Coles stood in line at a Scarborough pop-up clinic all day Thursday, only to be turned away when doses ran out, the pair told Metro Morning.

"It was frustrating," said Coles. "It almost feels like a competition of who can be here the earliest and go through this the longest."

On Friday, they tried again, lining up at 4 a.m., behind about 100 others who'd gotten there as early as midnight.

Images of long lines looping around a football field posted to social media generated plenty of reaction.

By 7 a.m. a line of about 1,500 people wound around the high school's football field. Hussein and Cole are waiting to get a ticket, which will guarantee them a dose probably by early afternoon.

"We are taking time off from responsibility and every day work," Hussein added. "That's a day and a half gone already."

New cases remain high

The province recorded 1,331 new COVID-19 cases in Toronto on Friday, up from 1,172 yesterday.

On Thursday, the city reported more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients in hospital and 242 receiving intensive care. Toronto Public Health is currently in the process of updating its data system and new numbers are expected later today.

Meanwhile, Toronto police have laid 230 charges in relation to violations of the stay-at-home order since Monday, it said in a statement. They have focused on indoor events at short-term rentals and supposedly bars and restaurants.

"Officers are dispersing arge gatherings daily and laying charges against those who are ignoring the emergency order," police said.

More ways to get vaccinated

The city has partnered with FCJ Refugee Centre and Access Alliance to help residents without an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card book a vaccine appointment if they meet current eligibility criteria. These residents can contact either organization for assistance and interpreters are available.

FCJ Refugee Centre and Access Alliance's contact information is available here.

The Pfizer vaccine pilot begins in Toronto and Peel pharmacies for people aged 55 and over. Most locations are taking appointments and some will allow walk-ins. Participating pharmacies in Toronto include:

  • Keele-Ingram Pharmacy, 2221 Keele St., Toronto

  • Loblaw Pharmacy, 2549 Weston Rd., Toronto

  • Shih Pharmacy, 2700 Kipling Ave., Unit 9, Toronto

  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 565 Sherbourne St., Unit 40, Toronto

  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 2751 Eglinton Ave. East, Scarborough

  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 123 Rexdale Blvd., Etobicoke

  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 2550 Finch Ave. West, North York

  • Wal-Mart Pharmacy, 1900 Eglinton Ave. East, Toronto