TORONTO — The City of Toronto is rolling out several mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics in an effort to boost immunization rates over the Thanksgiving weekend.
At least 18 "Vaxgiving" clinics will be running at malls, transit stations, schools, churches, libraries and other locations.
Mayor John Tory says the clinics, which opened Wednesday, are in areas where vaccination rates are lower than the city's average.
Toronto is working to reach a goal of having 90 per cent of its eligible population vaccinated -- 81 per cent of eligible residents currently have two shots.
The city's top doctor says anyone who gets their first shot over the Thanksgiving weekend will be able to get fully vaccinated in time for the December holiday season.
Dr. Eileen de Villa also says those planning to gather over the long weekend should consider the vaccination status of people they are with, particularly if the group includes anyone vulnerable to the virus.
She says gathering exclusively with individuals who are vaccinated "is the safest" approach. De Villa also says gathering outdoors can reduce risk if a group includes unvaccinated people.
"To be able to gather in person with the confidence, with a superior level of protection against COVID, is something you simply have to experience yourself," de Villa said as she encouraged those who've yet to be vaccinated to do so.
Toronto has seen "some stability" in COVID-19 case counts over the course of the last few weeks, but de Villa cautioned that it's too soon to be "over excited" since the full impact of schools resuming and people moving around more has yet to be seen.
Tory said the city needs to continue its push to vaccinate as many residents as possible.
"We are in fact making progress," he said. "But it's the kind that requires great perseverance."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Noushin Ziafati, The Canadian Press