'Vax the North' pushes to bring vaccines to Toronto areas that are falling behind
TORONTO -- Some areas of Toronto are lagging behind in vaccination rates — so, the city has turned to a targeted push to finish the job.
One of these involves a weekend long clinic called “Vax the North” at Mel Lastman Square in North York, complete with a band, a festival atmosphere and prizes.
“We’re aiming for 90 per cent vaccination rate,” said Dr. Rebecca Stoller at the event. “We’re aiming high and we’re hoping to get there.”
The city estimates there are thousands of people in the vicinity of the square who haven’t yet received a shot.
The city says some North York neighbourhoods are between 6 and 10 per cent below Toronto’s average vaccine rates.
The clinic, which runs Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., is open to anyone without an appointment.
It’s a low barrier clinic designed to give a shot to everyone who wants one, and if they’re lucky, something more: 12-year-old Jayla Akinbode won a draw for a gift certificate.
Far better, she said, is now she’s double-vaccinated, shortly after she became eligible on her birthday.
“It feels good because I can go see my family now. I haven’t seen them in a year,” she said.
Three of the four lowest vaccination rate communities in the GTA are located in Toronto. M9N, Pelmo Park, and M4H, Thorncliffe Park, sit just under 60 per cent. In Jane and Finch and in L4X in Mississauga they are sitting just over 60 per cent, according to data from ICES.
That means about 40 per cent of residents in these areas are vulnerable to the Delta variant that is surging in other countries.
“Almost everyone who is getting seriously ill has not been vaccinated. Vaccination is saving lives. What we are doing here today is helping people save lives,” said Rudy Dahdal, a VP of North York General Hospital.
As he kicked off the event, Toronto Mayor John Tory said it’s important for the clinic to be accessible.
“It’s accessible for people with varying abilities, but it’s also very open. You can make an appointment or just show up. What we’re anxious to do is vaccinate anybody and reduce the risk of the Delta variant,” he said.
Jayla’s mom had a message for the stragglers: “They’d better come,” she said. Her daughter was the last to get vaccinated in her family because of her age.
“I’m relieved. Because it’s been a long time coming. I’m happy that we’re all complete,” she said.