Vaccine pop-up clinics in Toronto are resulting in ridiculously long lines
Pop-up vaccine clinics have been deployed to some of the hardest-hit neighbourhoods in Toronto over the past couple of weeks in an effort to improve access in marginalized communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus, but the first-come-first-served nature of the clinics is resulting in ridiculously long lineups.
Take the days-long pop-up in the Jane and Finch area, for example, which saw thousands of Humber River-Black Creek residents who have postal codes beginning with M3N vaccinated this week.
There’s a pop-up tomorrow in our Scarborough neighbourhood we will attempt to line-up for, but why should the hardest-hit communities camp out overnight and wait for hours for a limited number of vaccines, with no way of knowing when the next pop-up will appear? Horrible. https://t.co/WWxKbCLsYk— Anthony Smith (@AnthSmith) April 21, 2021
Many residents camped out overnight in winter-like weather just for a chance to get the jab, according to The Star, and some even had to return multiple times after being turned away upon their first attempt.
Low-income racialized people “camping out” in the snow in hard hit neighborhoods is not a heartwarming story— Tara-Michelle Ziniuk (@therealrealTMZ) April 21, 2021
Photos and videos posted on social media show similar conditions at other pop-up clinics throughout the city.
9:42 am: Woburn/M1G pop-up vaccine clinic line up. pic.twitter.com/9H5nS627ER— Scarborough Civic Action Network (SCAN) (@ScarboroughCAN) April 22, 2021
"It is difficult and un-human to wait from early in the morning in -2 C and wind," a resident who'd been waiting in line at a pop-up since 7 a.m. told the Scarborough Civic Action Network Thursday.
"If there is any time left to get back to work, that is 40 km away. I take [the] TTC and it takes me one hour to get to work. Depending on [the] time I am given, I may have to take the day off."
While more affluent Ontarians engage in "vaccine shopping", Jane & Finch 👇👇#onpoli #cdnpoli #vaccinated #vaccine #Canada— SpiceStar 🇨🇦 (@SpiceStar2) April 22, 2021
Residents of Toronto's Jane and Finch neighbourhood, line up at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Saturday, (April 17). THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston pic.twitter.com/hqUNicclwE
Toronto officials previously called on the province to allow hot spot residents aged 18 and up to register for vaccine appointments through the provincial booking system just like everyone else. But as that request has so far gone ignored, the only way for these communities to receive the jab remains lining up for as long as it takes.
And then there is the issue of supply.
While pop-ups in these hard-hit areas are seeing an overwhelming demand for shots, a lack of supply means some clinics are running out of doses before noon.
The M1G Woburn clinic was 'sold out' before 11AM today w/ hundreds still in line. More doses needed. Could vaccinate 3000+ today! @fordnation @JohnTory https://t.co/9zvfKzYBXx pic.twitter.com/sp81EtN1Et— Scarborough Civic Action Network (SCAN) (@ScarboroughCAN) April 22, 2021
As a result, the city announced a new strategy to triple vaccine access in 13 hot spot neighbourhoods by way of these pop-up clinics Wednesday, with postal codes beginning with M9W, M9V, M9L, M9M, M9N, M6M, M3K, M3J, M3N, M3M, M4H, M1J and M1G set to be prioritized in the coming weeks.
Sad to see many ppl in Woburn/M1G turned away from vaccine pop-up clinic today. Scarborough needs more doses and more clinics that are organized in partnership with community groups & orgs so they are done equitably. https://t.co/HCQlDbn3em pic.twitter.com/HhupziefvM— Scarborough Civic Action Network (SCAN) (@ScarboroughCAN) April 22, 2021
The plan, called the Team Toronto Sprint Strategy, involves allocating 12,000 doses a week to mobile and pop-up clinics in these areas going forward.
"Vaccination at community mobile or pop-up clinics is available to anyone age 18 or older in the targeted hot spot community. Hospital and community partners intentionally promote community clinics only to the specific neighbourhoods that the clinic is meant to serve," says the city.
"Clinics are brought to the attention of eligible local residents directly through primary care physicians like family doctors, employers, building managers, faith leaders and other local leaders, who are directly connected with the people the community clinics will serve."
Whether this new strategy will effectively solve the issues currently plaguing these much-needed clinics, however, remains to be seen.
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