Windsor is getting a new COVID-19 vaccination site as of next month, as officials make plans to close two existing sites.
The new mass vaccination clinic will be operating out of the southwestern Ontario city's Devonshire Mall, at the former Sears location, as of June 21, officials announced Friday.
Windsor Hall, which is owned by the University of Windsor, and the St. Clair College Sportsplex will no longer be vaccination sites, effective June 19 and July 22, respectively.
The closures will allow the buildings to be used by those institutions in time for the fall semester, according to a joint news release from Windsor Regional Hospital, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, the City of Windsor and the property management company for the mall, Cushman & Wakefield Asset Services Canada.
Anyone with a prebooked second dose appointment between July 11 and 21 at Windsor Hall will be rebooked at Devonshire Mall.
Windsor Regional Hospital President David Musyj said he wished that mass vaccinations could have been completed before it became necessary to switch to another site.
"I wish we had sufficient vaccines in Canada that we could get the campaign done in a lot less than a year," he said, adding that that's why he is continuing to push for access to expiring vaccines from across the border.
Downtown site to shut down
According to Musyj, sites other than Devonshire Mall were considered but there are few spaces that fit the bill, since an accessible space with a large capacity is required.
The closure of Windsor Hall, located at 167 Ferry St., means the downtown core will be left without a mass vaccination site, with the closest clinic being the Moy Medical Center on Ottawa Street.
Currently, the downtown area where postal codes start with N9A has the lowest vaccination rate among seven provincially designated "hot spot" communities in Windsor-Essex.
According to WECHU data released Friday, the vaccine coverage rate is 42.8 per cent in the N9A area while the regional average is 53.6 per cent.
Musyj said he hopes that many people will have had their second dose by the time the downtown clinic is set to shut down.
There's also the possibility of doing a pop-up clinic if necessary, Musyj said
"We'll play that out and see where it goes, if there's complications," he said.
Free transportation to vaccine clinics is already available through Transit Windsor, as well as via taxi through an initiative with the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.
There are four other vaccination sites in Windsor-Essex that will continue operating:
Moy Medical Center.
Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre in Leamington.
Libro Credit Union Centre in Amherstburg.
Vaccinations are also available at some pharmacies and select primary-care providers' offices.