Home North London ‘Major accomplishment’: London vaccination clinics close after 195k shots

‘Major accomplishment’: London vaccination clinics close after 195k shots

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Author of the article:

Jennifer Bieman

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Sep 05, 2021  •  43 minutes ago  •  3 minute read  •  Join the conversation COVID-19 vaccination centre is located at the North London Optimist Community Centre on Cheapside Street. (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press) COVID-19 vaccination centre is located at the North London Optimist Community Centre on Cheapside Street. (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press)

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The London area health unit is redirecting some staff from its two shuttered mass vaccination clinics to its mobile teams and case investigations, as fourth wave case counts steadily climb.

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The Middlesex-London Health Unit’s clinic at the Earl Nichols arena closed Friday after about three months in operation, with the North London Optimist community centre shutting the following day nearly six months after it opened.

The two locations have administered more than 195,600 COVID-19 vaccine doses combined as of Sept. 1, medical officer of health Chris Mackie said.

“For a data nerd like me, it sends shivers down my spine to see how effective these sites have been,” Mackie said.

“Almost 200,000 of our over 700,000 vaccines have been given at these two sites. That’s a huge chunk of work and a major accomplishment by everyone involved, including the people who showed up and rolled up their sleeves.”

As of Aug. 28, the latest date data is available, more than 717,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in London and Middlesex County. Of those, more than 560,000, or 78 per cent, were given at mass vaccination sites.

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In July and August, the health unit began supercharging its mobile vaccination program, bringing COVID-19 pop-up clinics to malls, schools and community events to reach populations who weren’t flocking to mass vaccination clinics.

About 89 staff, mostly part-time, from the two shuttered sites will be redeployed to boost the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s mobile vaccination efforts, Mackie said.

Others may find a home with the health unit’s outbreak management or case and contact tracing teams this fall, Mackie said.

“It will be helpful to have extra hands in those areas,” he said.

“We have about three or four health unit mobile teams in the field most days of the work week. . . . That is really the key strategy to get that last 15 per cent or so of people vaccinated.”

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At its peak in July, the health unit had 586 mostly part-time staff coming in for shifts at the Earl Nichols clinic, which was open seven days a week, Mackie said. The North London site had 620 staff, who were mostly part-time and temporary as well.

The now-shuttered clinics were later additions to the health unit’s mass vaccination site roster. The Western Fair Agriplex clinic, run in partnership with London Health Sciences Centre, was the first to open Dec. 23, 2020, followed by the Caradoc Community Centre in Mt. Brydges in February.

The North London Optimist site opened in March, at a time when seniors 70 and older became eligible for doses, and the Earl Nichols site followed in May, the month when COVID-19 vaccine eligibility was expanded to everyone in Ontario 12 years old and up.

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The Agriplex and Mount Brydges sites are remaining open with reduced hours this fall. The Caradoc community centre clinic will be closed Sundays and Mondays, while the Agriplex site will be offline Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The health unit is storing supplies from its two shuttered mass vaccination sites in case it needs to reopen a clinic, Mackie said.

“City staff have been extremely helpful to ensure we have storage available. We have an evolving plan. We know there are more groups of people who will become eligible, likely young children around the end of this year,” he said.

“We know there’s a possibility of third doses coming up sometime soon. We’ve got a plan to redeploy mass clinics if and when needed.”

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GET THE SHOT

At a vaccination clinic

Book an appointment: covidvaccinelm.ca or call 226-289-3560

Walk-in shots: First and second doses, minimum 28 days between shots

Locations:

  • Western Fair District Agriplex, 845 Florence St. – Thursday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Caradoc community centre, 565 Lions Park Dr., Mt. Brydges – Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Upcoming mobile clinics

Sept. 8

  • Kinsmen Recreation Centre, 20 Granville St., 1 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Dundas Place, between Dundas Street and Covent Market Place, 3 to 8 p.m.

Sept. 9

  • Middlesex-London Health Unit at CitiPlaza, 355 Wellington St., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sept. 10

  • Doses Till Dark, parking lot at the corner of Richmond and Angel streets, 3 to 9 p.m.

Full list: healthunit.com/pop-up-vaccination-clinics

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