TORONTO -- A pilot program to bring COVID-19 vaccines directly to Toronto seniors living independently was underway Wednesday, with a mobile immunization clinic set up inside a St. Clair West apartment building.

108 residents of St. Matthew’s Bracondale House, a privately-owned, non-profit seniors’ building, were given the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine as part of a test-run operated by East Toronto Health Partners, Mid-West Toronto Ontario Health Team and North York Toronto Health Partners in conjunction with community organizations.

The goal: to deliver the vaccine efficiently to residents in the comfort of their own homes, in just two or three hours.

“If you think about getting all those people to a vaccination centre, and the challenges of transportation and mobility, it probably is the most efficient way of delivering it, especially in vertical communities where seniors are living in groups,” Dr. Jeff Powis, medical director of infection prevention and control at Michael Garron Hospital, told CTV Toronto Wednesday.

“It needs to be done in an environment where they’re comfortable, appreciating that many of them haven’t spent any time out of their homes because of fear of acquiring COVID-19.”

The pilot began Tuesday, when 140 residents of Jack Layton Seniors Housing in the city’s east end were immunized in their building. The seniors’ residences were selected based on risk assessment; up to 70 per cent of the residents receive home care.


“I miss my family, I’d love to hug them,” St. Matthew’s Bracondale House resident Lyn Assness said Wednesday. “It’s the personal contact that I find that I’m without.”

“I’m always praying and hoping that this will soon be over and I’m sure that this vaccine really helps to get this over,” resident Merlinda Milla said.

The vaccine team will return to the buildings involved in the pilot in three weeks’ time to administer the second dose of the vaccine.

Pending approval from Toronto Public Health, the coalition of Ontario Health Teams hopes to expand the delivery of doses into more congregate living settings as soon as next week.