News Release
January 17, 2021

Today, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Fire Chief and General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management Matthew Pegg confirmed the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 immunization clinic proof-of-concept site is ready to open Monday.

Under the direction of the Ministry of Health and the Province of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, the City and Toronto Public Health are opening Ontario’s first proof-of-concept immunization clinic at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre starting tomorrow. This first clinic will help test and adjust immunization clinic setup in non-hospital settings, ensuring safety and increasing efficiency in advance of wider immunization.

Importantly, once the clinic has operated for an initial six to eight weeks, the City will produce a thoroughly-evaluated immunization clinic playbook in collaboration with provincial and hospital partners. This playbook will be provided to the Province and is critical in establishing other immunization clinics across both Toronto and Ontario.

In accordance with provincial allocations of COVID-19 vaccine, the goal of this first clinic is to vaccinate 250 people per day. It is important to note that immunization schedules at the clinic will be based entirely on vaccine supply. As announced by the federal government on Friday, due to work to expand the European manufacturing facility, production of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be impacted for a number of weeks. As a result, Pfizer will temporarily reduce deliveries at its European facility to all countries receiving its vaccine, including Canada.

Those attending the City clinic will receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, but due to the supply issues with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the Moderna vaccine may be reallocated by the Province elsewhere, as required in the coming weeks. Scheduling at the City’s proof-of-concept clinic beyond Week 1, therefore, may be impacted due to vaccine supply. As vaccine becomes more readily available, the clinic is scalable and will accelerate immunization accordingly.

The Government of Canada is responsible for obtaining the supply of COVID-19 vaccines; the Province has responsibility for distributing the vaccines and identifying priority groups established under the Province’s framework; and Toronto is responsible for supporting the administration of the vaccine in accordance with provincial prioritization and scheduling frameworks as vaccines are provided by the Province. Read more about the Province’s vaccine distribution implementation plan.

The proof-of-concept clinic is one part of preparing for public immunization rollout and is not open to members of the public. The clinic will operate with a sample group of healthcare workers, identified in accordance with the Province of Ontario’s Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine prioritization. These healthcare workers are directly involved in the frontline response to COVID-19, including frontline shelter workers and harm-reduction and Streets to Homes staff who work in support of some of Toronto’s most vulnerable residents.

To mark this momentous milestone in the City’s ongoing fight against COVID-19, the vial of the first vaccine administered by the clinic is planned to be added into the City’s artifact collection, managed by Museums & Heritage Services. This is part of the City’s effort to document the pandemic and preserve our response to it for future generations.

Those being immunized in the clinic can expect to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms, have their appointment confirmed and complete a consent form through a registration process. Clinic clients will then receive the vaccination at a physically-distanced station with a qualified clinician. Following the administration of the vaccine, the person being immunized will be directed to an after-care location in the clinic where they will remain for 15 minutes to be monitored for any reactions. The person will then go through an exit process which will include booking an appointment to receive the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine which will be given four to six weeks after the first dose. Before exiting, those who have received their vaccine will have the opportunity to take an ‘immunization selfie’ with a vaccine-themed backdrop to share their experience virtually with friends, family and their communities using the hashtag #MyCOVIDvax.

The Province is currently in Phase 1 of its three-phased vaccine distribution implementation plan. Limited doses of vaccines are currently available for healthcare workers in hospitals, long-term care homes and retirement homes and other congregate care settings. In preparation for Phase 2 and an increased stock of vaccines, the City and Toronto Public Health have developed a comprehensive immunization plan. The plan includes mobilizing scalable immunization clinics across the city that will operate as the Province prepares for eventual rollout of widespread and community-based immunization that includes vaccination by primary care physicians and pharmacies.

Subject to vaccine availability, the City’s immunization clinic operations will expand across the city in strategically-located areas and will include stand-up clinics, mobile clinics, and response teams to ensure priority neighbourhoods and vulnerable populations have access to immunization. More information is available on the COVID-19 Vaccines webpage.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for use in Canada on December 23, 2020. This vaccine is for use in people 18 years of age or older to protect against COVID-19. The mRNA vaccine tells the body’s cells to make spike proteins, specific to the virus that causes COVID-19. The immune system will respond to the new spike proteins by making antibodies that will fight off infection. The new antibodies will break down the spike proteins and get rid of them. The new antibodies will protect from illness if an immunized individual is exposed to the COVID-19 virus. To be effective, the second dose should ideally be given four to six weeks after the first dose. The vaccine does not contain the virus and so it cannot give us COVID-19.

To reduce and eliminate the transmission of COVID-19, protect the healthcare system and save lives, the City continues to strongly recommend all residents stay home as much as possible to help stop the spread of COVID-19. On January 14, the Province of Ontario declared its second state of emergency and a stay-at-home order is in effect in Toronto and across the province. The City is asking all people to respect the goal of the new COVID-19 regulations. The intention is for people to stay home as much as possible in order to make spreading COVID-19 impossible.

Note for media: Due to the current stay-at-home order and to protect the health and safety of staff and the public, the immunization clinic at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is not open to the media. The City will provide accredited media with b-roll and photography of the site on its opening day in the afternoon of Monday, January 18. Please email to request b-roll and photographs of the site.

Backgrounder for more information


“This new vaccination clinic is a testament to how quickly we can build capacity when we all work together as Team Ontario. We are well on our way to doubling our vaccination capacity by early February and we continue to get vaccines into people’s arms as soon as we receive the supply. I want to thank Mayor Tory and the City of Toronto for being valuable partners in our efforts to protect frontline workers and those they care for.”
– Premier Doug Ford

“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. This first proof-of-concept clinic is an important part in our vaccination plans and will test and adjust our immunization clinic setup. The playbook developed at this site will be used for all our immunization sites that will be opened across the city. While this site is not open to the public at this time, I encourage everyone to get immunized when it is their turn to protect you and everyone you love from this relentless virus.”
– Mayor John Tory

“This is truly a momentous day for the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario. Who would have imagined that in the six short weeks since we struck up our mission to bring vaccines to Ontario that we’d be seeing the completion of such a fantastic facility today. I have every confidence that this will create the leadership and standard by which vaccination sites will be measured.”
– General (Retired) Rick Hillier, Chair of the Province of Ontario COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force

“Establishing the City’s first COVID-19 immunization clinic for front line workers is an exciting milestone for our community and is the result of a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes in record time. On behalf of Toronto Public Health, I sincerely thank everyone for all of their hard work and contributions towards this significant achievement. As more vaccines become available, we look forward to offering more residents the opportunity to get vaccinated and we will keep you informed every step of the way. In the meantime, as we continue to see high COVID-19 activity in our city, please continue to stay home as much as possible to help protect yourself, your loved ones, and the capacity of our health system to ensure that it remains available for those who need it most.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health

“From the outset of COVID-19 in Toronto, we have both planned and responded proactively, with the primary goal of saving lives and preventing our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. The accelerated launch of this proof-of-concept COVID-19 immunization clinic is an important and exciting milestone in our ongoing fight against COVID-19, both in our city and across the Province. This clinic forms the foundation for expanded immunization operations moving forward, and brings us one step closer to beating COVID-19.”
– Matthew Pegg, Fire Chief and General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management

Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Media Relations