Pop-up immunization clinics could target specific neighbourhoods, says Gardner

·3 min read

Parts of Simcoe-Muskoka identified as having a high incidence of COVID-19 infection could soon see immunization clinics pop up in their neighbourhood.

While the Ontario government has identified hot spots in the province, including Bradford West Gwillimbury, where increased vaccination efforts are focused, local officials are keeping an eye out on other municipalities in Simcoe-Muskoka where COVID rates are high.

“In more densely populated parts of Barrie, we see a higher incidence of cases,” said Simcoe-Muskoka medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner, adding he doesn’t have specific data on a neighbourhood level.

The health unit has done some analysis of communities using its own incidence data, Gardner added during Tuesday's media availability.

Using information coming through on positive cases and where people live, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is able to analyze a municipality or postal code to determine the incidence at that level.

“We also have done some analysis on vaccination coverage,” Gardner said. “Our intention is to make that information available in the near future on our website.

“We have identified some areas that have lower incidence than others and right now we are working out plans on how that could be addressed," he added.

There is potential within the vaccination model to go beyond the current 13 community sites to create pop-up clinics as needed, Gardner said.

“We will be doing this in Bradford West Gwillimbury to help with their hot spot,” he said. “This would be certainly an option for us in other areas of the communities of having a lower coverage rate.”

Bradford West Gwillimbury and the L3Z postal code is one of 114 hot spots identified by the provincial government. Those areas have a high incidence of COVID, as well as high hospitalization and mortality rates or are otherwise challenged.

Gardner said the health unit is doing outreach, working with the community and stakeholders to arrange for opportunities for access to immunization. Officials are looking at increasing access to the vaccination clinic there and providing the AstraZeneca vaccine to some primary-care physicians, as well as through an additional 10 pharmacies designated by the province.

He expects those efforts to be ongoing in the weeks and months ahead.

Locally and provincially, COVID case counts have been climbing in recent weeks, reaching all-time highs in some communities.

The Simcoe-Muskoka weekly incidence rate for the week of April 4 was 110 cases per 100,000 population. The vast majority of active cases are in Barrie and southern Simcoe County.

“This is the highest that we’ve ever had in Simcoe-Muskoka,” Gardner said.

Bradford West Gwillimbury had the area’s highest weekly incidence rate locally for the fifth consecutive week with 300 cases per 100,000 population. New Tecumseth and Lake of Bays also reached their highest rates with 200 cases per 100,000 population.

Barrie, Innisfil, Essa Township, Tiny Township, and Adjala-Tosorontio Townships all had more than 100 cases per 100,000 population.

Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com