Team Toronto and Toronto Public Health (TPH) are shifting the city-wide COVID-19 vaccination approach to increase localized vaccination opportunities, outreach and efforts, as case counts and hospitalizations continue to decline.
As part of this next phase of the vaccination, Team Toronto and TPH will shift resources to a hyper-local, equity-focused campaign and continue to increase vaccination opportunities in focused communities with low vaccine uptake. While significant progress has been made across the city and in certain age groups, disparity in vaccine uptake remains as some communities continue to experience hesitancy and barriers to vaccination.
As of February 17, 91.1 per cent of eligible Toronto residents age 12 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 88.3 per cent having received two doses of the vaccine. More than 63 per cent of eligible residents have received their third dose.
Hyper-local, equity-focused strategy
TPH has reallocated resources from City of Toronto immunization clinics and doubled mobile vaccination staff to focus on the new hyper-local, equity-focused strategy aimed at improving vaccination uptake in certain neighbourhoods and communities. This shift in resources will allow TPH to expand the number of mobile clinics and bring vaccines to communities where residents live, study, work and play, targeting 30 focused neighbourhoods, identified by an analysis of local, neighbourhood-level data:
The new strategy includes the expansion of clinics held at community centres and restarting mobile clinic operations at shopping malls. As part of the City’s Shop And Vax campaign, 19 clinics will be held by TPH and Team Toronto partners across the city starting this Thursday, February 24 to Sunday, February 27, which includes:
Shop And Vax clinics will accept walk-ins for first, second, third and paediatric doses. More information about Shop And Vax clinics is available on the City’s COVID-19: Pop-Up Immunization Clinics webpage.
TPH will also continue to focus vaccination efforts and build trust among other focused populations including people experiencing homelessness and living in shelters, Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, those with accessibility needs, pregnant individuals and newcomers. TPH has held 2,483 mobile clinics since April 2021, bringing COVID-19 vaccines to where residents live, work and play.
There will also be continued efforts to bring COVID-19 vaccines to elementary and secondary school students, their families and school communities through school-based mobile clinics, with a focus on third doses for residents 12 to 17 years old. On February 18, the provincial government expanded third dose eligibility for this age group. TPH will work closely with school boards and schools to plan and promote school-based mobile clinics which will operate both during and outside of school hours. Between January 31 and February 13, 143 clinics were held at 121 different schools across the city to provide vaccinations to students, their families and the school communities, with 55 school clinics scheduled from February 14 to February 28.
VaxTO and Vaccine Engagement Teams
The City’s VaxTO campaign also continues to connect residents with vaccination appointments and information through its evidence-informed and multilingual approach. The VaxTO campaign uses a combination of tools including targeted voice mail messages, live calling, text messages, emails, town halls and other outreach methods to connect with eligible residents. The campaign works in conjunction with the City-funded Vaccine Engagement Teams, comprised of 155 community agencies and 410 neighbourhood ambassadors, to help remove any barriers residents face in getting vaccinated.
Most recently, Vaccine Engagement Teams supported vaccination efforts by assisting and registering seniors for home vaccinations, accompanying residents over age 50 to clinics when needed, hosting multilingual vaccination and COVID-19 education town halls and webinars, and promoting local vaccine clinics at shopping plazas, malls, grocery stores and restaurants. The Vaccine Engagement Teams, with the tools available through the VaxTO campaign, also led local outreach to promote special vaccination events such as Vax the Northwest and Vax the East, targeting approximately 11 neighborhoods with low vaccination uptake.
City-run immunization clinics
On March 1, as part of its efforts to target neighbourhoods with low vaccine uptake, TPH will open a new immunization clinic at Eglinton Court, 1940 Eglinton Ave. E. This new City-run clinic will replace clinic operations at Scarborough Town Centre, which will close on Saturday, February 26. The Eglinton Court clinic will offer first, second, third and paediatric doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for walk-ins and booked appointments Tuesday to Friday, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The new clinic is close to several neighbourhoods where COVID-19 vaccination rates are below the city-wide average, including Wexford/Maryvale, Flemingdon Park, O’Connor Parkview, Taylor-Massey, Pleasant View and Parkwoods-Donlands. COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be available at Scarborough Town Centre through mobile and pop-up clinics as TPH moves into the next phase of the hyper-local, equity-focused vaccination strategy.
TPH is also adjusting the hours of operations at City-run clinics from seven to six days per week as resources are shifted to support hyper-local efforts. The new hours of operation for walk-ins and appointments are as follow:
More information about where to get vaccinated across the city including at over 525 pharmacies and primary care offices is available on the City’s webpage .
TPH will continue to closely monitor vaccination rates across age groups, neighbourhoods and sub-populations, and adjust the vaccine campaign and its equity-based response accordingly. TPH continues to urge all residents to get their first, second and third dose, if eligible, and if they have not already done so. COVID-19 vaccines have been scientifically proven to lower the risk of illness, hospitalization and death while protecting oneself, loved ones and the community. Recent data shows that residents with three doses had the lowest rates of hospitalization, ICU and death over any other level of vaccination.
“I want to thank Toronto Public Health and all our Team Toronto partners for the work they are doing, literally in hundreds of mobile clinics over the coming weeks, to keep up our progress on vaccinations. It is making a difference and it will help protect people and bring this pandemic to an end. I continue to urge residents to get vaccinated and to get their third dose as soon as they are eligible. A third dose will help make sure you have the best protection possible against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. It is worth taking the time to get and that’s why we are making it as easy as possible to get your third dose at our Shop and Vax clinics this weekend.”
– Mayor John Tory
“Since the very beginning of our vaccination campaign, our commitment has been to break down every barrier and make vaccines accessible for all Torontonians. This remains our commitment as we enter the next phase of the campaign with a focus on our hyper-local, equity-focused strategy. This phase of our Team Toronto vaccination approach is a data-driven strategy to bring vaccines directly to where people are – their work, school, and community centre, but also their local shopping mall. Through our hyper-local approach and the return of Shop And Vax, we’re making vaccines more accessible for neighbourhoods with lower vaccination rates.”
– Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York), Chair of the Toronto Board of Health
“As the pandemic enters into a new phase, Toronto Public Health is adapting its efforts to bring COVID-19 vaccines to where residents live, work and play. Mobile and community vaccination clinics continue to play an important role in reducing barriers to Toronto residents to ensure they can get vaccinated as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Moving forward, we will continue to adapt and adjust our response, to ensure that those who are most vulnerable, are fully protected from COVID-19.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health
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