Over 2,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine issued at pop-up clinic held at Toronto city hall

·4 min read
Mayor John Tory tweeted his photo of a pop-up vaccination clinic in the rotunda of city hall on Sunday. (John Tory/Twitter - image credit)
Mayor John Tory tweeted his photo of a pop-up vaccination clinic in the rotunda of city hall on Sunday. (John Tory/Twitter - image credit)

More than 2,500 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered at a pop-up vaccination clinic held by the city of Toronto in the city hall rotunda on Sunday.

People aged 12 and older were eligible to receive a shot on Sunday, with priority being given to those from hot spot postal codes.

Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters early Sunday that it was symbolic and it made sense to have a vaccination clinic at city hall, in the heart of Toronto, because it is a place that residents know well. He said residents already go to city hall to hold celebrations, vigils and protests, and now, they could go there on Sunday to get vaccinated.

Tory noted that the Ontario government has made it clear that reaching provincial "vaccination thresholds" is key to the gradual reopening of the city and province.

The clinic was held on the day that the Ontario government opened up bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for residents aged 12 and up. The 12 and older age group is now allowed to book through the provincial online system or call centre and through pharmacies that offer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The age group became eligible a week ahead of schedule.

"Many people have never been inside this building. We wanted people to come inside and we wanted them to feel comfortable and to feel welcome and to make sure this public space, the ultimate public space in our city, was being put to good use," Tory said.

Tory noted there was music both inside and outside as well as ice cream to make the city hall vaccination experience more appealing.

The clinic, which was for first doses only, was run in partnership with the Social Medicine Program at the University Health Network, The Neighbourhood Organization and St. James Town Community Corner. It started at 10 a.m. and ran as long as supplies lasted.

"All neighbourhoods across the city are welcome," the city had said on an online poster advertising the clinic.

UHN CEO says city hall is an accessible place

Dr. Kevin Smith, CEO of the University Health Network (UHN), said it was important for the hospital to hold a vaccination clinic at the "centre of civic discourse and civic action."

Smith said city hall is an accessible place for many people who live in downtown neighbourhoods. "We wanted a place where everyone could come together," he said.

Dr. Andrew Boozary, executive director of Social Medicine at the UHN and a physician, said the turnout on Sunday was amazing.

Grace Cooper, 13, who got vaccinated at city hall on Sunday, said: "I feel a bit nervous because I don't really like shots but if I get it, and if more people get it, then the sooner we are to getting back to normal."

For Alivia Riley, 16, and her younger sister, Avery Riley, 14, vaccination was worth it even though they had to wait in line.

Alivia said: "I feel good! It didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would and I'm happy I finally got it now. I'm so happy, I miss my friends so much and I just need human interaction so I'm finally ready to see all my friends once we all get vaccinated."

Avery added: "Same, I was a bit nervous going in, but it honestly didn't hurt and I'm happy that I have it so I can be a bit safer than I was before."

The city encouraged residents to get vaccinated this weekend as part of its "Long Weekend Dose Drive" across its network of nine city-run clinics.

More than 22,518 people were vaccinated at city-run clinics on Friday and Saturday, the city said.

Over 1.9M vaccine doses administered in Toronto

On Sunday morning, the city said there were 5,357 appointments still available on Sunday and Monday for any person 12 or older who wants to be part of its vaccination push this weekend.

"While Toronto has already surpassed 60 per cent vaccine coverage, there is a need to continue this momentum as reopening begins," the city said in a news release on Sunday.

At the city hall clinic, no health card was needed for vaccination, but people were encouraged to bring proof of address or employment, such as a utility bill, driver's licence or pay stub.

People who were non-insured and migrant workers were also welcome, the city said.

As of Saturday, 1,906,593 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto, according to the city.

The province says it opened its booking system to people aged 12 and older at the request of public health units, which wanted the province to remove barriers for families wanting vaccines. Only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use in people between the ages of 12 and 18.

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