TORONTO — Canada's largest city is ramping up its efforts to vaccinate everyone eligible against COVID-19, targeting neighbourhoods with the lowest immunization rates.
Mayor John Tory said more than 200 mobile clinics run by Toronto Public Health will be offering COVID-19 vaccines in various locations including malls, grocery stores, transit stations and places of worship, starting this week.
"We've got to make sure that people who haven't yet had an opportunity to get that first dose or second dose, have that opportunity on a basis that is as easy and accessible as it possibly can be," Tory said Tuesday.
"If you put these clinics in the right spot at the right time, people, maybe for the first time, will come out to get vaccinated," he said.
The city said the data-driven effort will target areas that have low vaccine coverage, a high risk of contracting COVID-19, or both.
Officials have identified five neighbourhoods with the highest number of unvaccinated residents aged 25 to 49. They are the Waterfront Communities, Willowdale East, Islington-City Center West, Church-Yonge Corridor and Mimico.
"For many Torontonians the issue remains access, not opposition to vaccines," said Joe Cressy, the chair of the city's board of health.
"Many Torontonians still face barriers or questions that we're working to overcome: from mobility issues and language barriers to transportation access and technology challenges."
-Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, said mobile and community vaccination clinics are playing a crucial role in the vaccine rollout.
"I cannot stress this enough – the vaccine is your best protection against COVID-19 and its more infectious Delta variant, and will make a difference in how the fourth wave plays out," she said.
Earlier this month, the city closed four of its nine mass immunization clinics in order to reallocate hundreds of employees to its mobile vaccination teams.
Public health officials in Toronto - a city of 2.9 million people - have said 76.6 per cent of eligible residents have been fully vaccinated and nearly 83 per cent have received one shot.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2021.
Rhythm Sachdeva, The Canadian Press