Eight people mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine at Toronto clinic despite not being on priority list
Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin makes preparations at Toronto's Mass Vaccination Clinic on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
TORONTO -- Eight people not on the priority list were mistakenly given a COVID-19 vaccine at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this week after an online registration link to book appointments was "erroneously shared."
Mayor John Tory confirmed the mix-up while speaking with reporters on Wednesday.
He said that the individuals who ended up being vaccinated when they should not have were people who “by and large work in the healthcare area” but were not among the select group of frontline healthcare workers who were supposed to receive their vaccines at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre site.
“This is one of the lessons learned in the two days (that the clinic was operating), you know that there should have been and there will now be going forward some protection like a password so the link can’t be shared,” Tory said. “I don’t blame the people who got the link and somebody said ‘You have this link and now you can go sign up for an appointment.’ How would they necessarily know any better?”
The vaccination clinic at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre was the first such facility outside of a hospital setting in Ontario and was supposed to be used as a so-called “proof of concept” exercise, so other municipalities could open similar sites.
The clinic, however, was ordered to close after just 48 hours due to a shortage of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
Speaking with reporters, Tory said that the city did “react immediately” upon becoming aware of the issue and disabled the link.
City spokesperson Brad Ross also told Newstalk1010 that another six people who were able to book appointments were turned away after it was determined that they were not on the priority list.
“These are the lessons we learned and I think we are going to have to be really explicit in communicating who is getting vaccinated when and make sure that when you go to the link to make an appointment that there has to be some sort of password or other security measure,” Tory said. “But I can tell you that when we learned about this we moved very quickly to address and I think if we had the rest of the weeks or even the six weeks to run the clinic we would have found that that wasn’t the case.”
The Ontario Dental Association did send out a bulletin to its members on Tuesday after learning that the link was circulating.
In it they said that the “the site was not meant to be accessed by dentists, nor many other community-based health care workers who also tried to access” it.