Residents brave the rain to get COVID-19 shot at Thorncliffe Park pop-up clinic
TORONTO -- Lineups resumed outside a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Thorncliffe Park again on Sunday after an estimated 1,300 vaccine doses were administered to area residents over the age of 18 on Saturday.
Eligible Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park residents lined up outside the clinic hours before it opened on Saturday morning to ensure they could get a dose of the vaccine.
A similar scene was found at the clinic on Sunday morning as residents, carrying umbrellas and lawn chairs, braved the rain in hopes of receiving one of the 1,100 doses that are expected to be administered today.
Some people waiting for a shot on Sunday said they started lining up at 4 a.m., five hours before the pop-up site opened.
“It is great to see so many people coming so early,” Phillip Anthony, a registered practical nurse at Michael Garron Hospital and the mobile vaccine manager for the clinic, told CP24 on Sunday.
“We are going to continue planning to do this outreach moving forward.”
He said while they would like to host more mobile clinics, staff are waiting to see what their vaccine allocation looks like before finalizing plans for future pop-ups in the neighbourhood.
Last week, the province announced that residents ages 18 and older in Ontario’s hot spot postal codes would soon be eligible for a shot. Premier Doug Ford said these residents will be inoculated via mobile teams and pop-up clinics in neighbourhoods with the highest levels of COVID-19 transmission, starting with areas in Toronto and Peel Region.
Ford told reporters last week that when the provincewide stay-at-home order expires at the beginning of next month, he hopes that at least 40 per cent of Ontarians will have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The City of Toronto has yet to provide specific details about how and when vaccines will be rolled out to hot spot neighbourhoods.
Speaking to CP24 on Sunday, Mayor John Tory said mobile teams will continue to be dispatched to communities most affected by the virus.
“We... together with the province and our health partners, indicated that we are going to be going into some of the neighbourhoods where the rate of vaccination has been lower but where they are hot spots and this clinic in Thorncliffe Park is an example of that,” he said.
“One of the reasons there is a lineup is simply because they are run at the moment a little bit differently because they can't use the provincial booking system. The ones that are at the city clinics, everybody has a precise appointment.”
At city-run mass immunization centres, people ages 50 and older in hot spot communities can book an appointment to receive a shot through the province’s online portal or call centre.
Tory said he is expects that eventually, people will be able to book appointments at these pop-up clinics through the provincial portal.
“At the moment, we wanted to get on with them, make them available to a much broader crowd of people,” the mayor said.
After some initial vaccine hesitancy from some in the community, Tory said he believes Toronto is now building some “very strong momentum” when it comes to inoculating residents against COVID-19.
"At the beginning, there was some hesitancy about the whole thing. People are not used to getting vaccinated. Even when we give flu shots there are some who get them and some who do not, but this was one where we wanted everybody to get vaccinated and there were people who for different reasons had some hesitation about that. I think there were other people who wanted to just watch and see what was going on before they signed up," he said.
"My sense now is we've really developed a very solid momentum, both at the city clinics, where we are booked very close to capacity all through the week, which is great, and also at these pop-up neighbourhood clinics where we are going to make a real effort to reach out to people in hot spot neighbourhoods through their postal codes."