Toronto ramps up mobile vaccination efforts, will host upwards of 200 pop up clinics each week

Toronto Public Health is expanding its mobile vaccination efforts once again and will now host upwards of 200 clinics each week at grocery stores, parks, transit stations, shopping malls and other high traffic areas.

Mayor John Tory made the announcement during a press conference at city hall on Tuesday morning alongside Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa.

He said that the additional clinics are part of a “new micro targeted approach to get the vaccines to areas of the city with lower vaccine uptake.”

“We've got to make sure that those people who haven't yet had an opportunity to get that first dose or second dose have that opportunity on a basis that is as easy and accessible as it possibly can be,” Tory told reporters. “We have shown with these different, I don't want to call them experiments, but these different initiatives at subway stations, malls and schools and places of worship that if you put these clinics in the right spot at the right time people, many for the first time, will come out to get vaccinated. That's why we're expanding precisely this effort.”

Toronto closed four of its nine mass vaccination clinics earlier this month in order to reallocate hundreds of staff to its mobile vaccination teams.

The remaining brick and mortar clinics will continue to operate for the time being but the city is increasingly shifting its efforts to more targeted outreach as it works to reach the more than 17 per cent of eligible residents that are yet to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The more than 200 mobile clinics which will be hosted by Toronto Public Health each week will be clustered in areas of the city with lower vaccination uptake.

That means places like Taylor-Massey in the city’s east end, where just 63 per cent of eligible residents have received their first dose, and Kingsview Village-The Westway in the city’s west end where the first dose vaccination rate among eligible residents is only 66 per cent.

“Given all the talk of vaccines I know it can seem hard to believe that some people who want the shot still haven't gotten one. But that's exactly what we're seeing. For many Torontonians the issue remains access, not opposition to vaccines,” Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy said during Tuesday’s press conference. “While there may be some in our city who oppose vaccines, the vast majority of those yet to get a shot simply need some assistance. Many Torontonians still face barriers or questions that we're working to overcome. From mobility issues and language barriers to transportation access and technology challenges.”

Tory said that the vaccine clinics will be held in a range of places where residents “commonly go.”

He said that residents can also expect to see more clinics at TTC stations given the fact that more than half of those hundreds of doses administered during recent pop-up clinics at Victoria Park and Main stations were first doses.

Nearly 83 per cent of eligible Toronto residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 77 per cent are fully vaccinated.