As Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine supply increases, Toronto is preparing for the largest immunization effort in the city’s history.
Toronto’s Immunization Task Force will eventually operate nine clinics across the city, once enough vaccines are available.
“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,” Mayor John Tory said.
At a press conference on Monday, Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, the general manager of Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management, announced that five of the clinics have been set up, with work continuing to ready the remaining four.
“The nine city-operated COVID-19 immunization clinics form the backbone of the network of city-wide clinics and locations that will eventually be available to residents,” said Pegg.
The clinics will be located at:
- The Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front Street West)
- Malvern Community Recreation Centre (30 Sewells Road)
- Toronto Congress Centre (650 Dixon Road)
- The Hangar in Downsview Park (75 Carl Hall Road)
- Scarborough Town Centre (300 Borough Drive)
- The Mitchell Field Community Centre (89 Church Avenue)
- North Toronto Memorial Community Centre (200 Eglinton Avenue West)
- Carmine Stefano Community Centre (3100 Weston Road)
- Cloverdale Mall (250 The East Mall)
It is currently estimated that the clinics will open in early April. They are being set up ahead of schedule so that the city can begin vaccinations as soon as more doses are available.
“I know people are tired of the pandemic,” said Tory. “Everybody wants it to be over. The vaccines represent the best and the ultimate weapon in fighting COVID-19, and defeating it.”
Additionally, the city is collaborating with hospitals, and community partners, with plans for 49 hospital clinics, 46 community health centre clinics, and 249 pharmacy clinics.
“Our plan is for these 350+ clinics to be supplemented by mobile and pop-up clinics across Toronto: at shelters, food programs, and drop-ins, as well as TCHC seniors’ buildings,” said Joe Cressy, Councillor and chair of Toronto Board of Health. “This is all part of our approach to ensure our most vulnerable have access to vaccines.”
According to the city’s vaccination program playbook, between five and 40 immunizers will be at a clinic, depending on the size of the site.
Based on past flu vaccine clinics the city has run, it estimates that each immunizer will be able to administer eight doses per hour.
Pegg stressed that residents should not call 311 to inquire about booking an appointment and that they not visit a clinic unless they have an appointment.
“From a medical perspective, whatever supply we’ve got – from a little to a lot – we want to be able to deliver it to people quickly,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health.
“The sooner we have needles in arms – and the more needles in arms we have – the better off we all are.”
Toronto is currently in the first phase of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine program. In this stage, vaccines are available to vulnerable populations and at-risk residents, including long term care residents and front-line health care workers.
The start of phase two is dependent on vaccine availability, but the city anticipates it will begin in the spring. Other at-risk populations will be eligible for a vaccine at this stage, such as older residents and essential workers.
Phase three will begin when vaccines are “relatively freely available,” at which point any Torontonian who wants a COVID-19 vaccine can get one.
Pegg said that the approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine by Health Canada brings “excitement and hope” that the vaccine rollout in the city will be expedited.
“We are working every day with our provincial partners to ensure that we are able to make vaccines available to make vaccines available to everyone who wishes to receive one as very soon as possible,” Pegg said.
To date, Toronto has seen 97,656 COVID-19 cases and 2,659 virus-related deaths.