More than 350 different sites will administer COVID-19 vaccines in Toronto
TORONTO -- There will be more than 350 different locations administering COVID-19 vaccines in Toronto once supply improves.
Toronto officials had previously released the location of the nine city-operated vaccination clinics and at a briefing on Monday Mayor John Tory provided information about the wider vaccination network that will help to get shots in the arms of the city’s 2.93 million residents.
That network will include the nine city-operated clinics as well as 49 sites operated by hospitals, 46 sites operated by community health centres and 249 sites operated by pharmacies.
Toronto Public Health has also said that it will assign a team of staff to help operate mobile and pop-up clinics in locations across the city with a particular focus on neighbourhoods that have seen higher rates of COVID-19 transmission.
“This is a team effort and I believe the rollout plans we are discussing in detail today shows you just how big the team is for starters and the fact that it will, as you would expect, deploy its efforts right across the entire city,” Tory said.
“This will be the largest vaccination effort in the history of the City of Toronto and I am very confident that we will be able to meet this challenge.”
Five of the city’s vaccination clinics, including a large one at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, have already been set up and can begin operations as soon as directed to by the Ford government.
Meanwhile, work is currently underway on the vaccination clinic planned for the Mitchell Field Community Centre in North York with the clinics slated for the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre, the Carmine Stefano Community Centre and Cloverdale Mall to follow.
City officials also say that efforts are well underway to hire and train the 1,400 staff that will be required to keep the city’s mass immunization sites running.
Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, who is leading the city’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, told reporters on Monday that the clinics will “form the backbone of the network of city-wide clinics” but are just one piece of the puzzle.
The city also has a three-prong strategy to address vaccine hesitancy that will include partnering with 280 neighbourhood ambassadors, including faith leaders, sports coaches and barbers.
The city has also struck partnerships with another 140 community agencies and is working on a series of targeted campaigns to reach community members in particularly hard-hit areas.
“As Torontonians you have gone through a lot this past year and we have all gone through too much to come up short now,” Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy said during Monday’s briefing.
“Our vaccination campaign is the largest undertaking in our city’s history. Every neighbourhood, every community agency, every resident must be a part of it. Think of it almost as an election but in this case we need to win more than 70 per cent of the vote and we need absolutely everyone on the ground working together to get residents to the polls or in this case the vaccine clinics.”
The Ford government has said that it intends to vaccinate an additional 7.5 million people during the second phase of its vaccination campaign, which will go until June.
Some public health units, including York, have already started accepting appointments for those over the age of 80 though Toronto officials said on Monday that it is not feasible to do so here given the number of people in that demographic.
Instead, officials say that they are working with hospital partners to identify “certain sub populations” within that demographic for now who can be contacted and offered the vaccine.
“Our 80 plus population in the city is as big as the entire population of the City of Guelph,” Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said. “Obviously what we are waiting for is larger supplies of vaccine so we can get to that very big group here in Toronto.”