As first shots plateau health unit makes vaccination easier

As of Tuesday, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) says anyone can walk in -- whether it's for their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine -- and you can pick your shot.

"Come on by, we'll be happy to see you," says MLHU Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Alex Summers.

“First dose vaccinations have certainly plateaued already and it is concerning,” he told a media briefing. “We need to get our first and second dose coverage probably 10 per cent higher than it currently is across the entire population.”

Walk-ins will now be accepted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at all four of the region's mass vaccination clinics, as well as at pop-up clinics.

As well, as long as it's available, people now have a choice between mRNA vaccines – whether it is Pfizer or Moderna – for their shot.

Summers says the vaccines are both "exceptional" and "equivalent with regards to their safety and efficacy," but the health unit realizes that some people have a preference and wants to remove that as a barrier.

Pfizer will be available at all MLHU-operated mass vaccination and pop-up clinics, while Moderna will be available at:

  • Western Fair District Agriplex
  • North London Optimist Community Centre
  • Caradoc Community Centre (Mount Brydges)
  • Middlesex-London Paramedic Service pop-up clinics

"This is a profoundly safe vaccine. It's not experimental when hundreds of millions of people across the globe have received this vaccine…it's safe, it's effective, it's gone through the rigorous approval processes, there's no excuse on the safety side, and it's effective," Summers says.

Anyone who has not booked their second appointment sooner is also encouraged to do so as soon as possible.

The MLHU emphasizes that all recent hospitalizations in London and Middlesex County with the now dominant Delta variant have been among unvaccinated people.

Summers says, "The Delta strain is so infectious that over the next few months there are two potential outcomes for us as a community. If all of us who are eligible to get vaccinated, get vaccinated, we will successfully quench and decrease the Delta strain in our region and protect those who are unable to get vaccinated…If that doesn't happen, the Delta strain will continue to circulate in our community and over time, for those who are not vaccinated or who are partially vaccinated, they will get infected with COVID-19."

As of July 10, 78.4 percent of adults in Middlesex London had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

And having one in five unvaccinated leaves the community vulnerable to continued cases of COVID-19 now that the more contagious Delta variant is the dominant strain.

France recently took a stronger approach, requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated and making proof of vaccination necessary to attend restaurants, movie theatres and other entertainment venues.

Summers says the subsequent increase in vaccination appointments in France didn’t go unnoticed here.

“Let's see if we can explore some of those ways to reduce barriers first,” he explained. “Then in discussion with other decision-makers in each level of government, we can start to explore whether or not that will be necessary.”