scarborough vaccine

The rollout of vaccines in Scarborough is a total disaster and people are furious

It's not easy to get a vaccine in Scarborough. 

Residents of Toronto are finally starting to get vaccinated at a quicker pace this month now that fifty-three areas of the city have been identified as hot spot regions where those 18 and older can get a shot at new mobile and pop-up clinics.

Unfortunately, the haste of the suddenly expedited rollout has meant that people are scrambling to gain access to very few doses and public health units are trying their best — and failing — to keep up with demand with such tight resources and on such short notice. 

The most recent example of this is in Scarborough, which holds two of the 13 postal codes that were deemed the greatest priority areas in need of an increased number of doses, and which has been hosting pop-up clinics this week.

The first-come, first-served clinics have been seeing absolutely ridiclous lineups in which citizens are waiting hours for a chance to get a shot, some of them even camping out overnight prior to opening.

Thousands have turned up for them so far only to be turned away.

With small and delayed inoculation shipments provincewide, many are finding that the areas that have the highest proportion of essential workers and infections — and are thus the most in need — are not receiving nearly enough doses for the number of people seeking one.

Some pharmacies in select at-risk neighbourhoods have even started offering AstraZeneca shots 24/7, but these spots are reserved for those 40 and over and are booked in advance, unlike at the pop-up clinics, which are running out of vaccine within hours of opening while countless people wait in line.

One resident cited a clinic for Scarborough residents with a postal code starting with M1L that had a long enough line before doors were even slated to open on Thursday morning that the few hundred doses they had on hand were already allocated before they even began.

"Clinic opened at 9 a.m., line was maxed by 7 a.m. & everyone else was sent home," they wrote of their experience on Twitter.

Former Ontario MP and Toronto City Councillor and Olivia Chow touched on the topic during an appearance on CTV's The Social on Friday, sharing an anecdote about trying to help her plumber book a vaccine appointment in his high-risk, lower-income area.

Chow said that she couldn't get through to a pharmacy in his neighbourhood, but then thought to try and call for an appointment at a location in a wealthier locale.

When she did, she was able to get through and book pretty quickly.

"It depends on where you live, it depends on whether it's a richer or poorer neighbourhood, it's insane, it shouldn't be like that," she said.

"Right now, we could do better in getting the jabs into people that are getting infected. They are lower income, they are racialized and they live in areas where you can't reach the pharmacy."

As the province rushes to immunize priority groups while also making vaccines accessible to as many people as possible, hopefully public health units can get better at distributing doses from clinics where there remain extras at the end of the day to those where people are desperately waiting for them.

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