Coronavirus Canada Updates: Ontario opens its first COVID vaccination clinic in downtown Toronto

Coronavirus Canada Updates: Ontario opens its first COVID vaccination clinic in downtown Toronto
Coronavirus Canada Updates: Ontario opens its first COVID vaccination clinic in downtown Toronto

Ontario’s first municipally run COVID-19 vaccine clinic is ready to go in downtown Toronto.

The facility, which is located at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, opens its doors on Monday, Jan. 18.

On Sunday, Jan. 17, Mayor John Tory, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, Fire Chief/COVID-19 Incident Commander Matthew Pegg, chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force General (Retired) Rick Hillier and Premier Doug Ford, visited the “proof-of-concept” vaccination site, which will “help test and adjust immunization clinic setup in nonhospital settings, ensuring safety and increasing efficiency in advance of wider immunization,” the City of Toronto said in a news release.

The plan is for the city, in collaboration with provincial and hospital partners, to produce a “thoroughly-evaluated immunization clinic playbook” after the clinic has operated for six to eight weeks. This information will then be provided to the province and will be used to establish other COVID-19 immunization clinics across Ontario.

In a release, Toronto said it is aiming to vaccinate 250 front-line health-care workers, including shelter and harm-reduction workers as well as Streets to Homes staff, per day at this site. At this stage of the vaccine rollout, the clinic will not be open to the public.

While the immunization schedule for Week 1 is set, it could be impacted by vaccine supply.

On Friday, Jan. 15, the federal government announced the availability of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Canada has been temporarily reduced due to the expansion of the company’s European manufacturing facility.

For now, those who will be visiting the soon-to-open Toronto immunization clinic will get the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which could also be reallocated elsewhere in the province as needed.

The city said it would adjust and accelerate the schedule at this clinic as the vaccine supply becomes more readily available.

“The opening of this site is an important milestone in Toronto’s ongoing battle against COVID-19. People should have hope that immunization is on the horizon and vaccination is happening right here and right now in our city,” said Tory, who encouraged everyone to get immunized against COVID-19.

In a release, De Villa thanked everyone for their “hard work and contributions towards this significant achievement” and said the establishment of this clinic is the “result of a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes in record time.”

To mark this pandemic milestone, the City of Toronto will be adding the vial of the first vaccine administered by the clinic to its artifact collection, which is managed by Museums and Heritage Services.

Currently, Ontario is in the first phase of its three-part vaccine distribution implementation plan.

The first cohort to be offered the two-dose vaccine are health-care workers, those living and working in congregate settings, those of 70 years of age and adults in Indigenous communities where COVID-19 infection can have disproportionate impacts.

Stage Two includes remaining health-care workers, residents and staff of all other congregate settings and essential workers in the energy and utilities, information and communication technologies, finance, health, food, water, transportation, safety, government and manufacturing sectors.

The next and largest group slated to get the COVID-19 vaccine is the general population, which likely won’t start to get the shot until at least this summer.

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