Toronto to close 4 city-run COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics as it bolsters mobile teams

·4 min read
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at a clinic in Toronto on Dec. 15, 2020. Healthcare workers from care homes hardest-hit by COVID-19 are among the first in Canada to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at a clinic in Toronto on Dec. 15, 2020. Healthcare workers from care homes hardest-hit by COVID-19 are among the first in Canada to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

The city of Toronto is closing four of its COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics at the end of the day on Sunday as it redeploys more than 300 staff to its mobile vaccination teams.

According to the city, the move is part of its "hyper-local" mobile vaccine strategy.

The four city-run clinics to be closed are located in the Carmine Stefano Community Centre, Malvern Community Recreation Centre, North Toronto Memorial Community Centre and Toronto Congress Centre.

Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health, said the four clinics have administered more than 380,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, but have seen a dramatic drop in the volume of people coming in to be vaccinated over the last several weeks.

Dubey said the redeployment of staff will enable the city to create new mobile vaccination teams, adding to its current roster of five, and the new teams will be sent to areas where there are lower vaccination rates, including neighbourhoods in northwest Toronto.

"We will come to you," Dubey said on Sunday.

"It's not necessarily that we're providing fewer vaccination services. It's just that the number of fixed clinics will be reduced and we will now be going to people."

She added the move will also increase the city's ability to provide more clinics in such places as schools, community hubs, faith groups and workplaces, the city added.

Pop-up vaccine clinic strategy works, official says

Dubey said the city's pop-up vaccine clinic strategy has worked since it was introduced early in the pandemic, adding the goal is still "all hands on deck." She said the strategy will help the city deal with rising daily case counts in the fourth wave.

"We've done very well as a city to get people vaccinated. Now, the last 10 to 15 per cent of people who need to get vaccinated may require even that much more convenience and even that much more support from their community."

Dubey said five city-run clinics will remain open for scheduled appointments and walk-ins, with the capacity to vaccinate 12,800 people every week.

The five that will stay open are located in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, Mitchell Field Arena, The Hangar and Cloverdale Mall. Hours of operation are from Tuesday to Saturday, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Evan Mitsui/CBC
Evan Mitsui/CBC

Mayor John Tory said the city is using a "much more targeted" approach to take the vaccine to neighbourhoods where a significantly number of people are not yet vaccinated. The approach involves going to residential buildings, he added.

"It's a better use of the resources we have," he said. "It's harder now to get people to flock to clinics."

75% of eligible Toronto residents now fully vaccinated

On Sunday, Tory announced on Sunday that 75 per cent of eligible Toronto residents have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

"This is a huge achievement by Team Toronto and by residents of the city of Toronto and all the people that have helped them to get vaccinated, " Tory said.

Tory said, however, more people in the city need to get two doses, saying the milestone represents not the end, but a midpoint of the city's vaccination efforts.

"You can see from the numbers that out today, this is still a cause of major concern," he said.

"The numbers are going up. We have seen this before. We know this is a cause for concern and it's a cause for us to redouble our efforts, to be careful, to wear masks, to avoid unnecessary crowd scenes and to get vaccinated."

City reports 141 COVID-19 cases on Sunday

Toronto Public Health is reporting 141 new cases of COVID-19 in Toronto on Sunday.

Since the start of the pandemic, Toronto has had a cumulative total of 172,767 COVID-19 cases. As of Saturday at 8:30 a.m., there are 30 people in hospital with the virus, two of whom are breathing with the help of ventilators.

To date, there have been 3,618 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. In total, 167,828 people have recovered.

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