Sudbury residents looking to get their COVID-19 vaccine might be pleased to hear things just got more convenient.
A drive-through vaccine clinic is being set up at the Real Canadian Superstore on Lasalle Boulevard for Monday, May 10. The drive-through is being set up by the Primacy Medical Centre, which is a walk-in clinic at the Superstore location (east parking area). The event takes place between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Sudbury physician Dr. Dennis Reich, the owner of the medical centre, said vaccine seekers can call by telephone or book an appointment online. The clinic is not a show-up-and-wait event. Everyone must make an appointment and arrive no sooner than five minutes before the appointment.
Reich said the idea for the drive-through is partly due to the growing sense of urgency for vaccinations now that Ontario is struggling with the third wave of the pandemic.
"This came out of necessity," he said.
"The government is ramping up vaccinations. Ages are falling, restrictions are falling. There are a lot of people who can't get through to the arenas. There is a need for volume," he added.
Reich said he learned that other communities in Ontario had tried the drive-through concept and it worked okay.
"So we've got lots of parking space at our clinic beside the Real Canadian Superstore and we've got lots of well-trained staff," he said.
Reich said the vaccines will be administered by trained health care professionals including physician assistants, registered nurses and registered practical nurses.
To qualify for the drive-through event, one must meet the qualifications laid out by the Ministry of Health and followed by the Public Health Sudbury and Districts.Those who are qualified can go online and request an appointment through the website, www.bookmyvaccine.ca/book. Primacy said there is also a link in French, for those who prefer to apply in that language. Up to four people may be qualified per vehicle. The Ontario vaccination plan website outlines the current age restriction (50+) as well as any other health conditions to allow the recipient access to the vaccine rollout plan.
The Primacy Medical Centre booking website will ask the vaccine seeker a list of questions. Those who are qualified will be contacted by email to confirm their booking.
Reich said the drive-through event will be assisted by PHSD staff and the Moderna vaccine will be provided. The return email from Primacy will confirm the time and provide vital information for the recipients on what to do on Monday. This could also include a map of the parking area letting drivers know where to park.
Part of the process includes bringing your official Ontario Health card so you can be registered on the provincial COVAX system. Recipients should also wear loose clothing or clothing that will let the immunizer get easy access to your upper arm to use the needle. Masks are also required.
Reich said each vehicle will be required to be turned off for a few minutes at the vaccination station. Once the vaccine is given, traffic marshals will instruct drivers where to park their car for 15 minutes of observation. Reich added Vianet will be providing an internet WiFi zone to allow people to use their smartphones or laptops.
Once the process is done, each recipient will have their vaccination receipt emailed to them. At the same time, recipients will be advised on when to show up for their second dose, which could be up to 16 weeks later.
Reich said the capacity for Monday's event is 800 vaccinations. The arena clinic provides vaccines to greater numbers of people, but the drive-through offers a bit of convenience for people.
"Every little bit helps," he said.
He said Monday's event is a first for Sudbury, and he conceded "there might be some growing pains" but added he is planning to have additional drive-through vaccine events in the future.
"We are getting excellent support from the public health unit. They're going to be providing some staff to ensure everyone is doing everything the best way," said Reich. He said his best hope is that people do not arrive too early because that could cause a traffic bottleneck. Arriving five minutes ahead of the appointment would be ideal, he said.
Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com