Toronto now using retrofitted TTC buses as mobile vaccination clinics

Mayor John Tory is shown outside a mobile vaccination clinic in East York on Thursday.

Toronto is now using six TTC buses as mobile vaccination clinics as it works to reach the hundreds of thousands of residents that have yet to receive a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The new strategy is part of a wider effort to shift resources to more targeted outreach and boost the number of pop up clinics being offered across the city to at least 200 each week.

“If people look at things like these bus initiatives and think those aren’t big numbers when you are doing say 50 (shots a day), I would just ask you to do the math. If you have six buses out and you multiple that by 50 shots a day seven days a week that is 2,100 doses and you know that is how we are going to grind this out,” Mayor John Tory said during a press conference on Thursday morning. “That is how we are going to get from 77 per cent (of the eligible population fully vaccinated) to a much higher number, way up into the 80s, it is by grinding it out.”

The new mobile vaccination clinics will be dispatched to high-foot traffic areas, including TTC stations.

The initiative comes following the release of new modelling from Ontario’s Science Table which suggest that Ontario will have to “substantially accelerate” its vaccination rates in order to protect the healthcare system and avoid another lockdown amid a Delta-driven fourth wave of the pandemic.

Speaking with reporters outside an apartment building in East York where one of the mobile vaccination clinics was underway, Tory said conceded that the projections released yesterday make him anxious “about the state of the healthcare system” and the potential for further shutdowns.

But he pointed out that the worst-case scenario, which could result in more than 9,000 new cases a day by October, is “predicated on the notion we would not do anything.”

“We know we're not doing nothing. We're doing lots and part of what we're doing in the City of Toronto is taking these buses to have mobile clinics in apartment lobbies, to have them in shopping centers, in schools, you name it. We're putting mobile clinics where people have not been vaccinated in adequate numbers so far,” he said.

The city previously used a number of retrofitted TTC buses as mobile assessment centres earlier in the pandemic.

The mobile vaccination clinics, however, have only been on the roads for about a week. They are being staffed by Toronto Paramedic Services and Toronto Public Health.